Monday, August 5, 2013

Simple Baked Eggplant

Simple Baked Eggplant
Living close to a Farmer's Market here in Boston has its perks, yet I managed to bypass going there this year. For some reason I had a notion it would be too expensive. I lived in Amherst, MA (home of Emily Dickinson) for 3 months last year. I remember going to a doctor's appointment on my bicycle (no subways there!) to get all the shots necessary to start my first year of graduate school. On my way there, I noticed a sign posted in front of a beautiful house, standing in the middle of a wondrous landscape of trees, flowers, frequented by birds. It said: "Five squashes for $1.00." No way! The New Yorker in me (I lived in NY for most of my life) could not believe it. Oh the excitement! I remember, bicycling back from my doctor's appointment, with a bounty of LARGE squashes stashed safely in my bicycle basket.

While I know that I will most likely never get five large squashes for $1.00 in Boston, I am surprised to find peaches, potatoes, patty pan squash (my new favorite), eggplant, carrots and much more, to be very affordable. The eggplant recipe is inspired by the beautiful eggplant I purchased here.


Simple Baked Eggplant (Makes about 8 slices)

1 medium sized eggplant, ends trimmed, sliced into half-inch cirlcles
1/4 cup chickpea flour (besan flour)
1/3 cup water, plus additional for soaking eggplant
1/2 to 3/4 cup gluten free or regular bread crumbs of choice
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
1 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves, crushed
1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon salt, plus additional to taste

In efforts to remove the bitter taste of the eggplant, soak it in water prior to baking. In a large bowl, combine water and 1 tablespoon of salt. Add sliced eggplant, and more water to cover it completely. Place a heavy plate or large pot cover on top of the bowl to prevent the eggplant from floating to the top. Soak for 1 hour, and drain.

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Coat a large baking pan with non-stick cooking spray and set aside. In a large bowl, combine chickpea flour, and all the spices. Season with salt and pepper and mix well. Add 1/3 cup of water and whisk until there are no lumps remaining. Pour the breadcrumbs to a separate bowl and set aside.

To assemble, dip the sliced eggplant in the seasoned chickpea batter with one hand, use your other hand to dip it in the bread crumbs. Continue doing so until there are no eggplants remaining. Be sure to coat the entire eggplant, including the sides, in the chickpea batter to ensure the breadcrumbs adhere. Bake each side for 15-25 minutes depending on preference of crispiness and color. Coat with non-stick cooking spray if necessary.

Serve as an appetizer or salad with tomato slices in between. Garnish with basil. Drizzle olive oil on top if desired. Makes a great sandwich filling, and works well sliced on top of pizza or as an addition to favorite pasta recipe.

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