Loves olive oil. Hates the refrigerator. A touch bitter.
If the eggplant were to write its own dating profile, we'd imagine it would look something like that. But we don't mind that eggplants are little fickle. We're smitten with the multitude of gorgeous, shiny varietals that are at the market right now. It's love in all shapes and sizes.
We want to grab speckled Fairy Tales to roast, split and purée into silky dips, or cook in vinegar to be pickled. Plump little round Thais to shave into curries and sauces. Slim, tender white Italians to sauté with tomatoes for spaghetti alla norma. Some, like the Japanese eggplant, need little more than a charring right on the coals until its purple outsides are blackened and crisp, then topped with a dollop of tangy yogurt and a drizzle of good olive oil.
But the thick-skinned nightshade is also a great vehicle for all sorts of spices. So our Food Editor Andy Baraghani took some Japanese eggplants, split them and rubbed them down with cinnamon, cardamom, coriander, cumin and a touch of red pepper flakes (see the recipe).
After grilling them to get the insides really tender, he served the eggplant with a little yogurt spiked with salt and lemon zest, as well as a simple salad of sliced cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, shallots and sesame seeds dressed in nothing more than red wine vinegar and salt.
Meat, smoke, spice, with a bit of coolness and crunch: That's enough to make us want to go steady.