Ah, the eggplant, also known as aubergine (why can't we call it that!?), that species of nightshade that signals the winding down of summer. Often eggplant is one of the last vegetables we learn to love, but once it's taken hold of you there's nothing more beguiling. When you fall for eggplant, you fall hard.
In California, eggplant season starts in late July and runs through the end of October. If you're lucky enough to have a vegetable garden, your eggplants should be coming in right about now. If not, now is the perfect time to look for them at the farmers markets. We took a look around the web and found five fantastic recipes to put your eggplants to great use. Turn the page.
5. The New York Times' smoky eggplant soup.
The NYT just published an article about the late-summer abundance at the farmers markets, and as part of that story they provide this recipe for a smoky soup using eggplant, garlic and lemon. Simple, straightforward and delicious.
4. Gourmet's kashk e bademjan.
Gourmet magazine may have died (sniffle, sob), but the website lives on. Here, it offers a recipe for kashk e bademjan, the Persian eggplant dip that puts baba ganoush to shame. Rich, tangy and heavily spiced, this is one of the world's greatest eggplant dishes.
Taken from Waters' 2007 cookbook The Art of Simple Food (and reprinted here on the food website Food 52), this is what ratatouille recipes should be: classic and simple. Many of us grow ratatouille gardens without even knowing it (tomato, squash, eggplant, peppers and basil), so this dish is a perfect way to make what is basically a hot, savory late summer salad.
Israel-born UK chef Yotam Ottolenghi, author of the massively popular cookbook Jerusalem (among others) and chef at five London restaurants, also writes a recipe column for the Guardian newspaper. This recipe uses the eggplant to make kadaifi nests, and pairs them with yogurt-marinated lamb chops. Ottolenghi also has a fantastic-looking recipe for eggplant bruschetta, made with pomegranate molasses, on his website.
If there's any region that might battle it out with the Middle East for best-use-of-eggplant it's china. Szechuan cooking in particular does eggplant incredibly well, usually frying it till crisp or braising it until it becomes almost pudding-like in texture. This recipe is more of a stir fry, and a quick and easy one at that.