Photo: Emma Alter
The eggplant that I have been growing in my garden has been extremely successful this year. The flowers are beautiful, which is always nice, and each plant is providing a large number of vegetables. I'm girding my loins for the onslaught of eggplant ready for harvesting. I have at least six coming in the next day or two, maybe closer to ten. Some vegetables you can keep around the kitchen for a while, but eggplant tends to get bitter, so you should cook it as soon as you can.Luckily, eggplant is an extremely versatile vegetable.You can can add it to baked dishes such as lasagne or the classic ratatouille, you can put it into soups and stews, you can roast it and make baba ghanoush, or you can simply grill it on the barbeque. One of my favourite ways to eat it is the Middle Eastern way of frying slices it in olive oil and garlic and then adding so much lemon juice on top it makes your mouth pucker.
Photo: Kelly Rossiter
I wanted to make a light lunch because it was hot, but I was feeling a bit arty, so I made this eggplant stack which turned out extremely well and was quite pretty to look at. I had kale, eggplant, a jalepeno pepper and basil from my garden, my homemade roasted marinated red peppers and some rice to work with. Couscous or quinoa would be wonderful with this, and healthier for you than rice as well, but rice is what I had on hand.You could also use other green leafy vegetables such as swiss chard or spinach as well. If you want to use fresh red peppers rather than preserved, then roast them first and then remove the skin, stem and seeds. You could grill the eggplant too, if you wanted to use less oil.This would be the perfect size for an appetizer for a summer dinner as well.
Eggplant and Roasted Red Pepper Stack
1 tbsp olive oil, plus more for frying
1 clove garlic, minced
1 large handful kale, swiss chard or spinach
1 eggplant, sliced into discs about 1/2" thick
fresh lemon juice
2 cups cooked rice, couscous or quinoa
1 small handful of basil, finely chopped, plus some basil leaves for garnish
1 roasted red pepper or marinated roasted red pepper, cut into quarters
salt and pepper to taste
1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet and add garlic, cooking until just golden. Add kale and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Place cooked kale in a bowl and set aside.
2. Heat enough olive oil to just cover the bottom of the skillet and add eggplant discs. Cook until golden brown, about 10 minutes, then turn them over to cook the other side, adding more olive oil if necessary. Remove eggplant to a plate, sprinkle it with lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste, and set aside.
3. Mix cooked rice, kale, basil, salt and pepper and egg together. Form into four cakes and add to the skillet, cooking until they are crispy and golden on the outside and heated through.
4. If you like, briefly reheat the eggplant in the skillet, and also the red pepper. Place a rice cake in the centre of the plate and top with eggplant slices, then red peppers and then basil for garnish. Serve immediately.