In terms off eggplant, I am definitely not an egghead. Sure, I've helped my parents flip eggplant on the BBQ grill, and I often eat Chinese stir fries with eggplant. I've just never truly cooked eggplant before. Or baked it. Or boiled it. I'm not really sure how to cook eggplant without usurping it of its nutrients, or adding a lot of oil (like my mum does when we have stir fries).
I don't want to make eggplant stir fry mainly because the eggplant from Chinatown looks so darn fresh (though it's definitely not "organic" in any sense of the word! I can tell they sprayed it with ethylene gas, because the surfaces underneath the leaves are still white). I also don't have any oil. I know, this sounds really stupid; oil/butter/other fats are a staple in a kitchen, especially when cooking, but I'm someone going to survive these two months without them (I think). One week down.
These are "cylindrical" eggplants...not the "teardrop-shaped" ones.
Apparently, eggplant can be eaten raw, although it may be bitter. I tried a chunk before I baked these, and they weren't bitter at all; they were actually kind of sweet and spongy, with a bit of moisture. I prefer them cooked, though.
After doing some research and reading a recipe, I figured that I should just slice my eggplant, salt the slices (yeah, I have a lot of salt, pepper, garlic powder, and Italian Pizza Seasoning, but no oil.), rinse the slices, and stick them on a cookie sheet for 20 minutes at 375F... and just see what happens.
I learned a few things:
1. I feel very self-conscious when I prepare and cook food in front of strangers. I felt very shy cutting eggplant while another girl in the apartment was waiting for her mac and cheese to bake.
2. Eggplant should be sliced at an angle, not cut like cucumbers.
3. Salting and rinsing sounds easy, but actually is really annoying because you use a ton of paper towels. After using three segments for four slices of eggplant, I decided to just stick everything on the cookie sheet and just bake it and see what happens. I should've added some pepper, but oh well.
The methodology for neophytes like me is this:
1. Do not peel eggplants. Evenly slice eggplants at an angle. Unfortunately, my slices ranged from 1 cm to 3 cm.
2. Pour some salt/pepper on your hand/plate, dip both sides of the eggplant flesh into it, and place the slice of eggplant on the cookie sheet. You do not need aluminium foil.
4. Bake at 350F (the oven was preheated due to the mac and cheese) on the bottom rack for 10-20 minutes. Since there is no baking soda/powder in this recipe, you can open the oven a lot to prod the eggplants.
5. Poke eggplant with a fork to see if is squishy and gooey yet (If it still looks white, it's not really done, but it's edible).
6. Turn off oven and let sit for however long you want, if you want something more sludgy.
7. Stick in sandwiches!!
Notice that there is NO OIL INVOLVED.
So I made a spinach, cheese and eggplant with herbs sandwich, which I stuck on the sandwich grill/press that we have in the apartment. It's a really efficient non-stick grill. It's amazing!!!