eggplant caviar.

July 16, 2012

eggplant_oil this past week, the news was all about how to survive in tiny apartments. okay, fine. a few other things happened too, but let’s just say all of our news was about how to survive in a tiny apartment. there have been photographers and film crews and requests for interviews with brazilian radio programs. in an effort to regain a bit of normalcy in this tiny place, i decided to make one of my favorite summertime comfort foods: eggplant caviar.
supplies i first learned how to make it while living in france, and since then, every summer it makes at least a few appearances. it’s not perhaps the most aesthetically pleasing dish, but as the name suggests, the taste is salty and delicious and even, a little bit fancy. if you’ve been reading my essays over on the equals record,  you know that i’ve joined james at the union square farmer’s market on saturdays. we sell vegetables for a farmer from upstate and this weekend was the first that we sold eggplants. they’re japanese eggplants, a slender variety that, for the modest among us, are difficult to photograph without blushing.
mush eggplant caviar is simple to make, but if you don’t have a grill, it does require a hot oven. i broiled the eggplants while james was out of the apartment for a few hours. this choice had the double advantage of meaning he couldn’t complain about the heat, and i didn’t have anyone to complain to but myself.  roastedwhen it was ready for eating, we blended ours into whole wheat pasta with thinly chopped summer squash and fresh basil and packed our dinners into containers to bring down to the river. the very best part about our tiny apartment? living so close to a view that takes my breath away, every time.finish here, a sort of recipe:

one large eggplant, or several smaller ones
a tablespoon, or so, sea salt
a tablespoon, or so, ground cumin
two cloves of garlic, chopped
juice from half a lemon

 – using a small knife or fork, puncture several holes into the side of eggplant to help release steam while roasting
–  place eggplant on a baking sheet and drizzle in olive oil
– depending on size, broil eggplants for 20 – 40 minutes, turning once
– when eggplants are soft and withered, they’re done. remove from oven and allow to cool
– in the meantime, chop garlic cloves and blend with salt and cumin. if you have a mortar and pestle, this is the time to break ‘er out. if you don’t, do what i did and use the back of a wooden spoon for mashing.
– when eggplants are cool enough to handle, use a knife to make a long slit down the center. with a spoon or the side of a fork, scrape the cooked eggplant out of its skin and into a bowl
– add the cumin, garlic, & salt mixture and juice from half a lemon to eggplant and stir
– allow caviar to sit for several hours to allow flavors to blend
– garnish with fresh basil and serve at room temperature. it’s equally delicious on a piece of toasted baguette or grilled pita as it is stirred into pasta

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  • Reply tinajo July 16, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    Interesting, I think I´d like that!

  • Reply Allie July 16, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    An interesting recipe! I love your photographs though. You have a great eye for simple beauty.

  • Reply Kayla Poole July 16, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    you two are beyond adorable in the video. and yes, phallic eggplants: I'm five years old, and laughed out loud at your reference.

  • Reply Milynn luong July 16, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    You lived in France? How cool! I admit after your comment about the eggplants, I had to scroll back to the photo and smiled.

  • Reply anabela / fieldguided July 16, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    Oh, this looks delicious. Eggplant is probably my favourite vegetable, so thanks for the recipe.

  • Reply Junaluska July 16, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    Ooh, this look delicious! Especially since I have been really into cumin and basil recently.

  • Reply sweet harvest moon July 16, 2012 at 7:13 pm

    Yum! Looks good!

  • Reply bigBANG studio July 17, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    Ok, HOW did I miss this whole Today show segment?! Erin, you two couldn't be cuter- and your apartment is SO adorable! Yay team!

    And I'm making this eggplant "caviar" as soon as it's cool enough to fire up the oven. YUM. Sending huge hugs, lady. xo

  • Reply Anonymous July 17, 2012 at 10:22 pm

    Eggplant spread /caviar/ salad is a summer staple in Romania. We mix the mashed eggplants with finely chopped onion, salt, and homemade mayonnaise and we serve this spread on fresh bread and tomatoes on the side. Try it, it will knock your socks off.

  • Reply kelsey July 18, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    made it, LOVED it! 🙂

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