This is apparently the summer of eggplant somewhere in the world — it certainly is in my weekly vegetable bin. Which is fine with me, but the rest of the family doesn’t care so much for eggplant. My challenge, therefore, is either to eat it all myself or come up with some way to transform it into something they’ll like. I’m going with the second option, because even I don’t like eggplant that much.
Stir-frys and moussaka are one way to go — the strong flavors of the other ingredients bring the eggplant into line. Eggplant can also be made into what the Russians call “poor man’s caviar.” (There are lots of caviar substitutes out there — even a black-eyed pea dish called “Texas caviar.”)
Many eggplant caviar recipes are heavy on tomato; the two go well together but don’t make for a very caviar-like taste. In fact, most caviar substitutes get the salty taste right but don’t taste anything like fish, or have the texture of myriad tiny spheres. What would it take to make one that did? Without growing as expensive as actual caviar.
Tuna, that’s what. I used one of those tiny cans of flavored tuna — Thai chili, but next time I might go with lemon and dill. Or even tomato. The fish egg texture was supplied by quinoa, something I discovered last year. It’s all natural, tasty but not overpowering, and even has protein.
Of course, I’ve still got lots of eggplant, but the rest of the bag of quinoa might make something tasty with them . . .
- 1 medium eggplant
- 2 cloves garlic (actually, 1 whole head, you’re going to be roasting it but using only part)
- ½ cup cooked quinoa (follow package directions — this only takes a couple of tablespoons dry quinoa)
- 1 3-ounce can tuna with Thai chili
- Sesame oil for brushing eggplant
- Peel eggplant and cut into two long halves
- Salt and let sit for half an hour, or soak in water for same time.
- If salted, rinse. Either way, dry with paper towel.
- Cut flat surfaces of halves into grid pattern.
- Brush with sesame oil.
- Place flat side down on greased aluminum foil or baking sheet.
- Meanwhile, get garlic ready for roasting — slice off the top of the head and wrap it in foil greased with a neutral oil like canola.
- Roast eggplant at 400℉ for 1 hour, garlic just until it’s done — 30 minutes or less.
- Meanwhile, cook the quinoa if you haven’t already.
- When the eggplant is soft, let it cool slightly.
- Chop it into roughly 2-inch pieces.
- In a food processor, blend it with the tuna and two cloves of the garlic for a few seconds, till eggplant pieces are about the size of peas.
- Transfer to serving bowl and stir in the cooked quinoa.
- Serve chilled, with crackers, bread, or celery sticks.