Chances are you live a stone’s throw away from a Thai restaurant in your neighborhood, and you’ve got a go-to local favorite for pad thai. These days I often find myself traveling north of Berkeley, where there’s quite a few wonderful Thai eateries clustered in Albany, El Cerrito and San Pablo locales.
Eggplant is tossed in a flavor-packed marinade, roasted until golden and creamy, and then dressed in lemon, soy sauce, almonds, feta, mint, and scallions. You’ll be coming back to this again and again — as a side, on its own, in a wrap, served with eggs…it’s a good every which way!
Two simple techniques increasingly omitted from recipes now are salting eggplant and browning butter. Neither are absolutely necessary. Both, however, are worth doing every once in a while to remind yourself just what amazing flavors you can create in the kitchen.
My daughters love to go to the farmers’ market with me to pick out the vegetables that look the most appealing to them that week (although this is not as much fun as the bounce house they have there). During our visit last week, my kids were intrigued by the small globe squash and eggplant available at one of my favorite stands. They thought they looked like little vegetable planets and started deciding which one was Venus and which was Jupiter. If there’s anything better than “cool” vegetables, it’s vegetables that make my kids think, so obviously I bought two bags. As I handed over my money, I realized that in addition to the minor science lesson, this was the perfect opportunity to make one of my favorite summer dishes: stuffed squash and eggplant.
My mother then remembered that her dad (my grandfather) had loved eggplant dipped in only seasoned flower and egg and then lightly fried in olive oil. I figured this was a great way to introduce kids to eggplant as the simple batter recipe kept the spices to a minimum and the crunchiness of the fried eggplant would negate any squishy texture the eggplant would naturally provide.