Voluptuous eggplant - simply too good
Perhaps the spikes are there to stop hot hands pressing against the voluptuous, shining fruit. Perhaps nature knew there was something too good about this salad ingredient that it needed to be protected.
I’d like to introduce you to eggplant grower and salad lover, Tim Burgess. Tim and his wife Anna grow 500 square metres of eggplant in their greenhouse at Moriarty in north-west Tasmania. And it all happened by accident. Tim had tried several different crops in the greenhouse but a supermarket buyer suggested he try growing eggplants. ‘They love heat and they’ll tolerate much more heat than a tomato or a capsicum,’ he says. ‘You never really know until you try and the first season gave us enough of an idea to know that we should pursue it. I think we get excellent crops now.’
Tim has become accustomed to digging out eggplant spikes from his hands, but nothing can prevent the sneezing that comes from breathing in the microscopic hairs dislodged from the leaves as he works the crop. It’s the price you pay for such beautiful fruit.
If you love eggplant then try Tim’s recipe below. After a morning in the garden, I made it for lunch (see photo). Simple, easy and delicious!
(Just as reminder before you start, pick firm and dark eggplant. The flesh should bounce back when pressed lightly).
Eggplant purée salad with coriander
- 2 medium eggplants
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, roasted
- 100 ml extra virgin olive oil
- 1 bunch fresh coriander, finely chopped
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Prick the eggplants with a fork all over and place them on a baking tray. Roast for 30–40 minutes in the centre of the oven, turning them occasionally, until the skin starts turning brown. Leave to cool slightly and halve lengthways.
Spoon out the flesh and then add garlic, cumin and sesame seeds. Puree using a hand-held mixer and gradually trickle in the olive oil to give a creamy puree. Add coriander as required and season with salt and pepper.
Enjoy your salads! Louise.
Join Louise on a journey through the seasons with salad ingredients, old traditions and popular, exotic or unusual vegetables. From Paddock to Plate founder, author, food writer, radio journalist & yoga teacher.