Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Anyone who knows me well knows I go through food obsessions. I'm thinking back to a few summers ago when I ate nothing but vegan hot dogs at every lunch for over a month. Months? Uh, maybe. I've gone through phases encompassing arepas, tahini, fruit salsas, chicken ranch wraps, black bean burritos (officially the longest lasting of my phases, as I'll still hit weeks where I'll eat nothing but black beans) and more.

Lately I can't get enough eggplant. Almost every Thursday since the beginning of August, I've trotted down to the Exeter farmer's market to visit Heron Pond Farm's stand and bring a few nice varieties home to incorporate in the week's meals. I've grilled them, fried them, baked them, used them for tostadas, in pastas, everything. If an evil fairy appeared and said I had to either give up eggplant or my phone for the week, well, it would be a tough choice.

This week's variation of eggplant is fried on a little labneh slathered syrian bread. Breakfast. Lunch. Snacks. Doesn't matter. This meal might very well be the only consistent thing about my days lately. But that's okay. Regathering your equilibrium has to start somewhere, right?

I'd feel a bit like a poser sharing a recipe for making labneh, as I'm not middle eastern and don't have a family recipe or method or anything. But I'll just say that it's pretty much straining yogurt in cheesecloth on the counter overnight. Easy as that. Look it up. It's tangy and creamy and delicious and an excellent accompaniment to fried eggplant.

The following recipe is one of my favorite ways to prepare eggplant. Fast and simple, and as I actually planted marjoram in my garden this year, a way to use an oft overlooked herb (in my kitchen, anyway.)

Grilled (or Broiled) Eggplant with Marjoram Sauce

2 eggplants, cut crosswise into slices 1/2 inch thick
salt to taste
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing
2 tablespoons fresh marjoram
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
freshly ground pepper to taste

Layer the eggplant slices in a colander, sprinkling each layer with salt. Top with a plate and a heavy weight such as a pot. Let stand for 1 hour to drain off the bitter juices. Rinse off the salt and pat the slices dry with a paper towel. (This step is debatable. I've met people who swear you don't have to drain off the bitter juices. I almost always do. I think it makes a difference.)

Prepare fire in a charcoal grill or preheat a broiler

To prepare the marjoram sauce, in a small bowl, stir together the 1/4 cup oil, marjoram, garlic, zest, and pepper. Set aside.

Brush the eggplant slices on both sides with olive oil. Place on the grill rack or broiler pan and grill or broil, turning once, until browned and tender, about 5 minutes on each side.

Arrange the slices, slightly overlapping, on a serving plate. Spoon on the marjoram sauce and let stand until serving. Serve warm or at room temperature.

This is an actual photo of the dish, it's just not MY photo of the dish. Well, I suppose it's my photo in that I used my iPhone to take a photo of the photo in the cookbook. Uh. The epitome of laziness. Maybe today I will make the one small required phone call to the person who can help me with my Photoshop problem, so I can start posting pretty pictures again. The photoshop problem I've been avoiding for about a month. But first, my breakfast, and my eggplant equilibrium.