Recipe: Baked eggplant with tomato thyme salsa
Eggplant, also known as aubergine, melongene and a few other obscure names, is one of my favourite vegetables to cook with. Firstly, it has that gorgeous smoky, earthy, mushroomy flavour (that’s probably due to the tiniest traces of nicotine present in eggplants but don’t worry as it won’t harm you unless you consume kilos of eggplants every single day). Secondly, it’s very versatile – you can bake it, fry it, make it into dips, use it in salads, antipasto platters, vegetable lasagna, and the list goes on.
Like tomatoes, chilis and potatoes, eggplant belongs to the Solanaceae/nightshade family, which for some people can be problematic due to alkaloids found in the nightshade varieties. However, the amount is quite small and is reduced by almost half when those vegetables are cooked. Majority will see no ill effects from consuming nightshades but the best way to find out if you’re sensitive/intolerant to things like tomatoes, eggplants and potatoes is to remove them from your diet for a few weeks and then see how you feel after the re-introduction. More on nightshades from Mark’s Daily Apple
If like me, you have a healthy relationship with the Solanaceae family, this eggplant recipe is a real treat. I am only using one fruit in this recipe but of course you can make lots of eggplant boats to serve as side dishes or to bring to a picnic/BBQ. They keep well in the fridge for a couple of days and I like to pull one out as a snack or with my egg omelette in the morning. Yummo!
- 1 large eggplant, washed and dried
- 2 medium tomatoes
- 1 garlic clove, peeled
- 2-3 springs of fresh thyme
- 2 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 lemon juice
- Sea salt
- Cracked black pepper
- Extra olive oil for roasting
- Heat oven to 200C. Place whole eggplant in a tray and bake on a middle shelf 30 minutes.
- Take eggplant out and carefully cut in half, length way. It should be getting soft and steamy on the inside. Turn the heat down to 180C. Drizzle each eggplant half with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and roast in the oven, flesh facing up, for additional 25 minutes or until crispy brown on top.
- Cut tomatoes into quarters, remove butts and seeds, dice into small squares. Chop garlic very finely and remove thyme leaves from springs.
- Remove eggplant from the oven and let it cool down for about 5 minutes. Carefully cut out the inside of the eggplant flesh, about 50mm away from the edges. Sprinkle a little lemon juice and sea salt on the bottom of the eggplant holes.
- Chop eggplant flesh and add to tomatoes, garlic and thyme. Add salt, pepper, lemon juice and two and a half tablespoons of olive oil to the salsa mix. Combine well and scoop equal amounts of mixture back into eggplant boats, garnish with a spring of thyme and a drizzle of olive oil for extra shine.
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 50 minutes
Number of servings: 2
Notes: You can use parsley or basil instead of thyme. If fresh garlic in the salsa is too pungent for your taste buds, reduce the amount or go without. It will still taste great.