aubergine obsession

No folks, not the colour, but the vegetable. When I was growing up, I knew this wonderful food as Brinjal, and hated it. I don’t actually remember why I hated it but I was a fussy kid who generally didn’t like anything. I didn’t like non-seedless fruit, proclaiming bones and spitting a mouthful out promptly if an errant seed in a grape or watermelon was found. I didn’t like crunchy french fries (apparently they too, had “bones”). I didn’t like corn but loved peas (the opposite now). Fussy kid or delusional kid? I don’t know – at least I was cute. I think.

Lately though, eggplant has been my ultimate food for meals. I love chopping it up and putting it in everything, and allowing its sublime texture and wonderful flavour come through. I like adding little cubes of it to my bolognese sauces and whizzing it to make a yummy dip. I like sauteing huge chunks of it with tomatoes and wilting some spinach into the mix for a dish that can be devoured warm or cold. Mostly? I like grilling it.

A few months ago, S bought me the coolest grill pan ever. I’d been wanting one of these for years but could never justify the cost. Oh yeah, you know what I’m talking about:

le-creuset-1025-in-square1274

Be still, my beating heart.

Promptly started in Sharon’s Test Kitchen, a number of searing exercises. There was the meats – chicken, all manner of cuts of steak, venison, pork cutlets, scallops, lamb chops. There was the sauces to accompany those – with jus lovingly scraped off to accompany mushrooms, wine splashes and more. And then there was vegetables – and eggplant has won hands down.

It’s easy. So easy I weep with joy when S and I decide to have steak for dinner. You chop it up into 1 inch slices. You sprinkle it with salt. You prep your meat and SEAR it, making delicious sizzling noises the whole time, and only sometimes with your mouth. You ignore the strange looks your partner gives you as you cackle maniacally at the smell of burning meat at the pyre. You allow the meat to rest, and whilst it’s doing that, you chuck the eggplant on the grill.

grilled eggplant in le creuset pan

Whilst these babies are cooking, plate your salad and pour your wines.

And then:

Eggplant and rocket salad

Just waiting for a slab of meat to top it off!

I would show you a picture with the steaks lovingly lain on top of the stack, juices merrily running around creating a flavour explosion. I would describe how the eggplant just heightens the texture of the steak perfectly whilst making the salad so much more exciting. I would attest to how the silky smooth eggplant drenched in steak sauce is just the perfect mouthful.

But I ate it.

Do you have an ultimate food of the moment that you can’t get enough of? I would love to hear all about it – as long as you come over and grill me some eggplant whilst you regale the tales…

(And yes, this blog post was written/planned/photographed over a month ago so no I’m not trying to wield heavy kitchen contraptions in my condition. In fact at this stage the kettle is too heavy for me to easily make a cuppa.)

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