Roasted Eggplant (Aubergine): The perfect canvas


I have loved roasted eggplant since I was a wee child.  Both my grandmothers cooked eggplant over earthen or clay stoves with wood fires.  The smoky, luscious eggplant was dressed with cilantro, green chilies and mustard oil.  My maternal grandmother may have added sautéed onions and a few spices on occasion.  

Roasted eggplant is beloved by many culinary traditions.  Middle eastern dishes like babaganouj and Persian spiced eggplant are some of my favorites.  The mediterranean and the near and far East have their own versions. I've described the simple method favored in Bengal. In other parts of India, tomatoes, spices and garlic are added with amazing results and complex tastes.  

I demonstrated this dish at the farmers' market a few summer ago.  I don't usually cook it at home as my husband doesn't prefer (his code for 'I really don't like') eggplant.  He's tried it and just doesn't like it. I've always wondered if he'd feel differently if we called it aubergine, which is far more sophisticated and appealing. 

Last weekend, I was in line a produce vendor at the farmer' market and the two women in front of me were talking about eggplant.  One said it looked great, but she didn't know what to do with it.  So I offered up this technique in which you can take the flavor profile into any direction that you prefer.  The roasting takes a little time and can be a bit messy if done over a gas flame (lining your stove with foil may help), but it can also be done in a broiler with the eggplants cut in half and laid with the cut side down so the outsides char.

The smoky, umami liquid that pools when you allow the eggplant to cool in a bowl is too delicious to toss; strain it into the pulp.  Waste not want not. 

I have dressed this with parsley, mother of thyme (a little less intense than regular thyme), gray salt, lemon  and olive oil.  I added a teaspoon of mustard oil in honor of my grandmothers--the pungent flavor blends perfectly with the smoky sweetness of the eggplant. You can add other herbs, garlic, onion, spice mixes including zatar, ras el hanout, herbs de Provence, garam masala, cumin, Thai curry paste, Chinese five spice, miso, tahini or something from wherever your imagination and inspiration lead you.

Large, globe eggplants work best here.  Medium rounded eggplants will also do.  One large black beauty eggplant yields about a cup of flesh.  You can roast an army of eggplants, or treat this like the precious, special dish that it is.  Eat less; savor the flavors and the moment. 

In terms of nutrition, eggplants are a rich,low calorie source of fiber, providing vitamins C, B6, niacin, Folate and also minerals such as potassium and magnesium. 

You should really try this dish.  Who knows. You may make an aubergine lover of someone.

RECIPE: Roasted Eggplant with parsley, mother of thyme, lemon and olive oil


  • 2 large black beauty or other globe eggplants
  • 1 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 table spoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon mother of thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon gray salt (more to taste)
  • 2 teaspoon lemon juice (more to taste depending on the acidity of your lemon)
  • Strained juice of the eggplants
  • 1 teaspoon mustard oil (optional)


  •  Roast the eggplants until the skin is charred all over and the flesh is very soft.
  • Use spoons or knives to break down the flesh. 
  • Add all remaining ingredients and mix well.
  • Season to taste.
  • Enjoy.

Makes 2 cups


Bruschetta with Sautéed Squash Blossoms & Fresh Ricotta


Squash blossoms are a delicate things that appear in the farmers’ market for the briefest time in early summer.  If I see them, I buy them and rearrange my day so I can cook them as soon as I get home.  I usually fry them in a tempura style batter with chickpea flour and Indian spices, or go in an Italian direction.  Sometimes, I stuff them with goat cheese, coat them with egg wash and panko and bake them. All of these methods are time consuming and take multiple steps, though the results are always worth the effort. I’ve always wanted to have an easy way to make them, and not feel the mixed roller coaster of emotions at the excitement of finding them, then the pressure of having to prepare them almost immediately, and finally anticipation and delight of their taste .

So when I spied the beautiful delicacies at the market this week (Farmer Sarment from Plant It Forward does it again), I was determined to find a quick, easy and delicious way to prepare them.   

 I had baked a loaf of no-knead bread for the week and had Lira Rossa fresh ricotta  on hand.  I had a beautiful purple pepper from Johnson’s Backyard Garden, red potatoes from Atkinson Farms and a few  skinny plum tomatoes from Sarment. So this dish came together as a light supper, packed with nutrition, taste and the excitement of squash blossoms, with all the ingredients gathered at that morning's farmers’ market. 

To to prepare the blossoms themselves, I shake them out, gently rub with a moist paper towel, cut them in half lengthwise and take out the stamens. A little residual pollen is no problem. 

 I used Penzy’s Herbs de Provence  and a little chipotle powder to create a fresh taste with a hint of spice.  Mixing different cultural styles seems perfect as these blossoms are enjoyed by so many cultures, capturing a moment in time that seasonal cooking highlights.  The addition of tomatoes provides sweetness and balanced acidity. 

The flavor of squash blossoms is delicate and mild, but unforgettable. If you’ve never had them, this is an easy way to try them. The sautéed  blossoms can also be used as a lovely side dish.

RECIPE : Bruschetta with Sautéed Squash Blossoms & Fresh Ricotta


  • 16 squash blossoms, halved lengthwise with stamens removed
  • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil 
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped shallot
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped sweet pepper (use what you can find)
  • 1 cup diced red potatoes  
  • 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes (if they are very watery, discard some of the seeds and water) 
  • 1 teaspoon Herbs de Provence
  • 1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly crushed black pepper
  • 4 slices of toasted bread
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • Extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper


Sautéing Squash Blossoms

  1. Place oil in pan with shallots, peppers, potatoes, herbs de Provence, chipotle, salt and pepper.
  2. Sauté for 4-5 minutes until the vegetables are translucent.  
  3. Add the tomatoes and cook another 4-5 minutes until the potatoes are cooked though. 
  4. Add the squash blossoms and toss to just wilt. Take off the heat.  
  5. Adjust seasonings. 

Assembling the Bruschetta  

  1. Spread 2 Tablespoons of ricotta on each slice of toasted bread.
  2. Drizzle with a 1/4 teaspoon olive oil, and sprinkle a tiny bit of salt and pepper over the cheese
  3. Top with the sautéed squash blossom mixture. 

Serves 4