Thursday, December 21, 2017

Cookbook Recommendation: Totally Eggplant, by Helene Siegel

I do have a rather tragic personal relationship with eggplants. Although at home we used to have regularly fried eggplant often turned into baba ganoush - the only way our nanny knew to prepare it - I never been a big fan of it therefore my interest to this veggie - actually according to some opinions, it is considered a fruit, following the same school of thought which includes tomato in the same category - was limited to observing the long process of preparing it on the stove. But when once I wanted to have a taste of eggplant in a restaurant, it happened that the product was slightly overdue therefore I caught an allergy that was about to cost my precious life. Since then - it happened over 10 years ago - I only tried to do my own recipe only once and the results were just fine, but nothing to make me want to go early in the morning out of the house and buy eggplants for a challenging food tasting and testing. 
I would love to change this situation though, therefore my search for sources of inspiration convincing me to include it in my regular menu. Totally Eggplant by Helene Siegel is a very good beginning in this respect. It includes very easy recipes, for a meal shared with guests, with a very fast preparation time.
It helps the reader - especially the non-experienced one - that it is 'a vegetable of many possibilities not only grilling'. Instead of frying, it offers the healthier and quicker option of roasting, in combination with many interesting ingredients and spices. The most challenging part of the recipes is that you usually need minimum 5 ingredients, because its original taste is quite diverse and matches a large variety of additions, such as curry, miso, onions and garlic, meat, vinaigrette, fish. For instance, one of the recipes I would love to test is: couscous with eggplant and pine nuts (which includes cumin, parsley, cinnamon and onion). Polenta eggplant lasagne sounds good too. Most of the recipes recommend though the new star of the European farmers' markets: the Japanese eggplant, which can be also produced in Spain, corkscrew shaped, longer and thinnier, milder and less bitter than the original variant we are familiar with. The book also has some short historical snaphots, explaining the origin of that product of the earth considered by the 16th century Ottomans as 'the Lord of the vegetables': probably brought to America by African slaves along with okra, watermelon or black eye peas.
Totally Eggplant is an enjoyable read, with a lot of tasty inspiration. Can't wait to get in the right mood to try some recipes, hopefully soon. 

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