Roasting eggplant slices for a versatile meal, photographed on March 10, 2021, in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)

Roasting eggplant slices for a versatile meal, photographed on March 10, 2021, in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)

Kalifornsky Kitchen: Eggplant for every occasion

Eggplants are surprisingly versatile.

The other day, I saw a couple of unblemished eggplants when I was browsing the supermarket, and felt inspired.

I was recently reading about a recipe for eggplant Parmesan, where the eggplants are baked and roasted instead of breaded and fried. The results are a custardy, caramelized and roasted slice of eggplant that can be layered in an eggplant Parmesan-style casserole, or served over rice with spices and soy sauce.

Eggplants are surprisingly versatile and pair great with tomato sauce, Thai-inspired peanut sauce, herby yogurt sauce sprinkled with pomegranate seeds or roasted simply with olive oil, salt and pepper.

To prepare the eggplant, some people will draw out the moisture by salting their slices and wiping them with a paper towel.

I did not do this step. A couple of the recipes I was reading omitted this step, so I decided to take the chance. I didn’t really notice a huge difference from past experiences when I had followed this step. So it’s up to you. If you choose to do it, you can salt all of your slices, wait about 10 minutes and dab off the moisture that’s drawn out with a paper towel.

This recipe roasts the eggplant slices at a high temperature for a while, so make sure your slices are evenly shaped, and have relatively the same thicknesses, otherwise the smaller thinner slices will crisp up and possibly burn.

The goal here is to get a lot of color on the eggplant. We want the slices browned and caramelized, and to have a crispy-ish exterior texture.

Once your roasted eggplant is done, serve as a main dish with rice, potatoes, noodles or maybe even tortillas? It’s a versatile dish that will take on the flavors you give it. This dish can adapt to whatever mood you’re in.

Roasted eggplant

1 globe eggplant, sliced about ½ an inch thick

salt and pepper to taste

¼ cup of olive oil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Lay your sliced eggplant out on baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. I did this on both sides of the slices, making sure each slice had some oil and salt and pepper. The slices don’t need to be completely doused in the oil, so don’t feel the need to go overboard. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes.

At the halfway point, about 15 minutes into the roasting, take some tongs and flip over the slices so each side is evenly browned.

Remove from the oven when both sides are nicely browned and tender.

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