Friday, March 21, 2014
Roasted Thai Eggplant
I HAVE SPOKEN SEVERAL TIMES about my husband's love of shopping so I thought it only fair to talk about mine. My Retail Therapy comes from shopping for food. Besides my regular grocery store, I look at and shop for food in Mexican Tiendas, an Oriental Market, 5 different independently owned, local Natural Food Stores. I discovered a little grocery area connected to a gas station that carries Middle Eastern and Indian foods. We have a wonderful State Farmers Market in Asheville, North Carolina and many smaller tailgate markets have sprung up all over town. We have 3 different supermarket chains based right here out of North Carolina and one from our neighbors in South Carolina. We have 2 (that I know of) local, independent meat markets. We have a few of what I call Boutique stores, spice shops, bakeries. So many choices.
With all those food stores thriving in our area, the big guys have decided to move in. Whole Foods is building a huge store and so is Publix. A Trader Woe's just opened and I do not "get" that one. Six different locally owned small businesses, were put out of business and razed to make room for a national corporate chain. Here in the era of emphasis on local food and environmental awareness, we have a store based out of California, the furthest state from us--a store where everything is packaged. Every produce item is wrapped. And for a store that built its reputation on "natural foods", they are anything but. I read labels. They don't and won't reveal the sources of their private label items. From the outside, the store looks huge--a hulking thing in the small mixed use neighborhood, but I was shocked when I got inside to find how small it is. All facade. But they have cool clip art and aloha shirts. And an almost cult-like following.
Yesterday, I was in one of our local supermarkets and spotted these cute little eggplants about the size of ping-pong balls. I just had to try them. They were labeled Thai eggplant, but they were locally (greenhouse) grown.
When I cut them open, I was surprised by how many dark seeds they had. I don't know what I was expecting but it wasn't that. So I rinsed them, salted liberally with Celtic sea salt, let them set for 30 minutes, and then rinsed thoroughly.
In a large mixing bowl, I combined about 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger, 1 garlic clove, minced, and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Then I tossed the eggplant with the mixture and spread them onto a rimmed sheet pan.
Roast in a 400 degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes, turning half way through the cooking time.
I was originally planning to make a curry sauce for these and serve over brown rice. But they were so delicious just like this, we ate them as a side dish. These eggplants were so flavorful, they didn't even need a dipping sauce.