by Balaboosta on August 11, 2013
OK – word association time.
I say “camping trip.” You say …
Wait - eggplant?
It was Liam’s idea. In honor of his 7th birthday, Liam asked me to take him camping. So we headed to the Delaware Water Gap, not even two hours from the City. It was nothing fancy – just a tent, some close friends, and enough food to last us ‘til January.
The weather was perfect for camping: 110 degrees, 90 percent humidity, zero shade. And the mosquitoes. Did I mention the mosquitoes? “Now I know why they call bugs bugs,” Liam explained. “It’s because they won’t stop bugging me.”
Like I said – perfect weather for camping.
For lunch, the kids wanted s’mores. Not just Liam and Mika, but my friend Guy’s kids, who have been living in America for less than three years. Somehow, in their short time in the United States, Guy’s three boys figured out that sleeping outdoors goes hand-in-hand with chocolate-marshmallow sandwiches.
I promised that s’mores would come – later. Meanwhile, Guy (you’ve met him before – he’s not only a friend, but my Executive Chef at Balaboosta) and I grilled steaks, Asian-style chicken wings, boneless chicken thighs, a medley of tomatoes, pearl onions and forest mushrooms, and some eggplant. All of it exquisite. All of it delicious.
So while eggplant might not be the food that comes to mind when you think of camping, I happen to find it perfect. It’s easy to transport. It’s healthy. It’s easy to grill. And best of all, you really don’t have to do anything to it to make it delicious.
But just in case you want to do a little something to it…you’ll find one of my favorite (and easiest) eggplant recipes below. Good for indoors, and out.
Smoked eggplant with Asian tahini
This Asian tahini was inspired by Ayelet Latovich, my close friend and talented chef.
Serves 4 as an appetizer
1 cup tahini
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
½ tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
6 tablespoons cold water
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
¼ cup honey
2 tablespoons soy sauce
toasted sesame seeds
Place eggplants on the grill or on a baking sheet under the broiler. If broiling in oven, make sure to poke the eggplants with a fork a few times. If you don’t, the eggplant will explode. As they cook, turn the eggplants a few times to make sure all sides get charred. They’re ready after about 20 minutes when the skin completely blackens and becomes very brittle and the flesh inside is very soft (if you press on it, there will be no resistance).
While the eggplant is cooking, prepare the tahini sauce. Mix together the remaining ingredients except for the sesame seeds.
Once the eggplants have cooled enough for handling, use a fork to split them lengthwise. Drizzle with the tahini and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
If you have leftover tahini, it will keep in the refrigerator for 4 days. It’s great on roasted vegetables.