Sunday, September 5, 2010

Baby Eggplant Carpaccio Salad

I found these tiny white and purple eggplants at the farmers market beneath the label, “Italian baby eggplants.” They were among the last remaining in a largely depleted crate that I imagined were once stacked to the brim only a few hours earlier. “What cute little babies!” I thought, and adopted them for my own. I walked away without the slightest clue of what would become of them. The adventure was entirely in the mystery.
Have you ever seen a white eggplant?
Although most recognized as being large and purple, the eggplant has many different identities. The first eggplant to reach Europe in the Middle Ages was actually a rare white variety. Small, round, and pallid, can you guess what it looked like? An egg! And so, the name “eggplant” came to be, and stuck even when the plant’s fruit no longer looked much like an egg at all. Green, white, yellow, striped, and in an array of different shapes and sizes, eggplant varieties are vast with origins that span across the globe.

At one time, when the eggplant was still just a misunderstood fruit, it was referred to as “mad apple” because it was thought to make you go crazy if you ate it. Obviously, this myth was busted a long time ago, but I did feel a tinge of insanity; not from eating the baby eggplants, but from wondering what to do with them. There are so many ways to prepare eggplant: baked, fried, grilled, sautéed, and stuffed— just about any way you want, really. But these were so little and I wanted to make them in a way that would show off their adorably distinct quality.

I thought and thought, and came up with this baby eggplant “carpaccio” salad. The thin slices of eggplant layered in a flat circle on the plate reminded me of the thinly sliced meat or fish in a carpaccio dish. If you make this salad, keep a watchful eye on the oven as the eggplant cooks super fast; I burnt my first batch. The tahini dressing really made the dish. This small thin variety of eggplant is available in the summer through September. I also suggest using Japanese eggplant because they are very similar in size.

I also sautéed the baby eggplant with tomato, onion, and garlic
in simple spaghetti topped with grated Parmigiano Reggiano.
P.S. Had a great tea party yesterday for Foodbuzz's September 24 x 24 in support of Ovarian Cancer Research. I made tons of good stuff! Keep an eye out for my post on Wednesday, September 8th.

Baby Eggplant Carpaccio Salad with Tahini Dressing:

Yield: 1 Serving

- 2-3 Italian baby or Japanese eggplants, thinly sliced on mandolin
- ½ tsp tahini paste
- Lemon juice from ½ lemon
- ¼ tsp honey
- 1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
- A few leaves of mint and basil, chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Mixed greens (optional)
- 1 tsp crumbled goat cheese

• Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lay out slices of eggplant on a sheet pan, brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Put in oven for about 5 minutes. Keep a watchful eye as they can easily burn.
• In the meantime, make the dressing: combine tahini paste, lemon juice, and honey in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in extra virgin olive oil until an emulsion is formed. Add mint and basil. Season with salt and pepper.
• Arrange eggplant slices on a plate. Top with mixed greens and goat cheese crumbles. Pour tahini dressing over eggplant and greens.


Mother Rimmy said...

I don't often cook with eggplant. This looks like a terrific dish to start with.

Angie's Recipes said...

I don't see white eggplants here...but at home we do have plenty of white eggplants.
That looks delish!

Wheels and Lollipops said...

Its funny the first time I saw white eggplants were a few weeks ago on vacation in the south of France. I picked them up without having the faintest idea of how I would make them. Your dish looks lovely


I haven't used eggplant all summer?! It's about time!

~Lisa~ said...

Oh I can't wait for your 24x24 I totally missed that one. This dish look so delicious Marisa! And I don't think i've seen a white eggplant before.

Luigi said...

What a really clever recipe, looks great. We use eggplant often, will bookmark this for sure.

Frank said...

Intriguing recipe... will definitely want to try it out.

Foodessa said...

Marisa...I'm still on the lookout for white eggplants...glad you found some ;o)

Your recipe with tahini and honey sounds very appetizing ;o)

Thanks for sharing and flavourful wishes,

Tanantha @ I Just Love My Apron said...

Oh Marisa I thought it the myth was true when you were telling the story. It turned out you went crazy on what to do with it haha. I thought to myself if it was true I would stop eating it :D

I've seen white eggplants before but never cooked with it. Farmers markets always amaze me!

Lazaro Cooks! said...

I have seen a bit of white eggplant lately. Great dish. Love the tahini dressing.