Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Table Side Review - Baked Eggplant

Last night, I made the Eggplant dish using the recipe from Hobby Farms (Sept/Oct 2011 issue, pg. 77) called Baked Eggplant with Creamy Roasted Garlic and Oregano Sauce.

I served it alongside spaghetti in a simple olive oil, garlic, parmesan and goat cheese topping.

First of all, let me disclose that I am not a professional chef, nor do I play one on television.  I also had to improvise on two things.  I did not have Greek Oregano, be it in fresh or dried form, so I used plain ol' dried oregano.  I also did not use the fresh mint it called for in the recipe as I really don't like mint in anything other than a cup of tea or in a red & white striped stick of candy during the holdiays.  

I am also not an Eggplant connoisseur, so the main vegetable in this dish may have been a bit under-ripe, a bit over-ripe, a bit something other than perfect, but to me, it seemed something that one would want in an Eggplant; firm with some give, not too many seeds, and well, eggplant-looking.

Oh, and I did not know that eggplant absorbs olive oil like a sponge.  When the directions say "brush chunks all over with remaining oil", do NOT save time by drizzling the oil over the bowl of eggplant as it gets sucked up like you wouldn't believe.  Luckily, I noticed this before getting more than a half dozen chunks saturated.

Now that I've finished with that, I'll go on with the cooking and subsequent dining experience.

I followed the recipe as closely as humanly possible with a 2 1/2 year old chasing the cat around the kitchen with the egg beater (the old fashioned kind, not an electric one).

Basically, it's eggplant cut into 1" cubes, baked in the oven for a 1/2 hour then tossed with a yogurt-based garlic and oregano sauce.

Everyone sat down to the dinner table, awaiting the new eggplant taste sensation.  I dug in immediately, but Paul was a bit more hesitant.  He knew I said we were having eggplant, but thought the chunks were chicken or "something else", so was a bit confused as to the true identity of the creamy covered lumps on the plate.  I was in mid-chew of my first forkfull of eggplant-garlic-sauce thing when I looked up at Paul.  He had the most serious, but subdued look on his face and calmly said, "I don't think I can eat this".  I think there may have even been a slight glimmer of horror in his eyes, afraid I was somehow going to make him eat it.

Now this is the man that has only refused to eat two other dishes I've ever made in over a decade of meal preperation.  One being a train-wreck of a lentil casserole dish (and we both love lentils) and some other concoction now long forgotten and relegated to the dark subconscious of our respective temporal lobes.

So I continue chewing on my eggplant, swallow, and ask exactly why he doesn't like it.  Not that I'm questioning his personal abhorrence for the dish, but because I am curious as to what improvements could be made (if any) to save the dish.  He said it tasted like something mushy and chewy at the same time, covered in that sauce they put on gyros.  And you know what?  He was right.  But I am obviously much more tolerant of mushy/chewy textures in food than he is as I finished my portion and relieved him of his.

I'm not sure if I finished mine (and half of his) because it was something I made and therefore must consume, because I was trying to convince myself that it was good, or because I just h.a.t.e. to waste food.   Don't get me wrong, I don't think it was the worst thing I've ever tasted, it's just something I won't be making again.  Like ever. 

While cleaning up dinner dishes, I was putting away what little was left over from the spaghetti (not much as it became the main part of Paul's meal) and actually hesitated putting the eggplant into a container.  But I did anyhow.  Because darnit, I made it and I'm gonna eat it.

Oh, did I also forget to mention that I didn't have yogurt?  I usually have at least a quart of it shoved somewhere in the back of the fridge.  But not this time.  So I actually had to have Paul pick up a container of Greek-style yogurt from the store on his way home.  Which cost over six bucks!  So not only did the dinner not make the recipe box, but it cost me a six dollar container of yogurt.

I'll let you know tomorrow morning if the chickens got it for breakfast.


  1. The only way I have ever fixed eggplant is sliced, brushed with oo and sauteed on my grill pan, then sprinkled with Parmesan Cheese. It was a variety called Prosperosa, I grew others the next two years and didn't like them at all!

    I vote chickens!

  2. THIRD attempt! Blogger is being a butt this morning!

    This is one post we needed Paul's Take for sure! HA! I had a bad feeling from the start with all the substitutes you had to go thru.

    Let us know how the chicks weigh in!

  3. That is why we asked YOU to make it. While things can sound positively delish on the page, the actual dish can be something else. I usually change at least half of any recipe, either because I don't quite have what it calls for or think I know better (often - NOT). I hate waste, too, and will do my darnedest to finish what I cook. But, then again, giving leftovers to chickens isn't really a waste. You are supplementing their feed!

  4. Yup. Chickens got it. I opened the container when I was rooting around for something for lunch for Rhiannon, took a whiff, was reminded of last night's dinner, and dumped it into the chicken bucket. At least something will eat it. I hope.

  5. Sorry it didn't turn out better. Bet the chickens liked it, though! :)

  6. I'm glad I'm not the only one who has to feed new/experimental dishes to the chickens! ;)

  7. LOL!! I was going to suggest feeding it to the chickens ;-) I never liked eggplant...not sure why. My grandmother loved it - fried, parmesan, sauteed. I just couldn't eat it...but it is a pretty vegetable!

  8. I'm sure the chickens will LOVE it! I laughed loud and woke a kid up when reading what Paul said about the meal. I can just picture it all unfolding.

    At our house, this would be known as "not a keeping recipe". Thank goodness you have chickens. :)