Let’s Cook: Eggplant Edition

For a while now, I’ve been working on cooking and eating healthier in an attempt to live long enough to see my daughter grow up. One of my problems with food, a rather common problem I am told, is that I hate it when food gets “boring” – repititive, bland and dull to look at. Because of that, I started eating out too much and was never quite happy enough with myself. Don’t listen to Tumblr – your body image does have a negative effect on you.

In an effort to pay it forward, I’ve decided to share my healthy recipes so that you, my dear readers, can share in life long enough to keep reading whatever it is I post on this damn blog. So, that said, let’s kick off the Nice Life Industries New Healthy Posting with some easy recipes that will make you happy to cook and to eat.

A Modest Proposal

THIS IS NOT WHAT I AM TRYING TO COOK

Let’s begin with something not quite so healthy, but better than some of the alternatives out there. Do you like meat loaf? Would you do anything for love? Well, randomly one night, I decided to carve out an eggplant, sauteed the innards and mixed with with some meat, Italian bread crumbs and cheese.

Ingredients:

Two Large Eggplants

1 lb. Ground Beef

1 lb. Ground Sausage

1/3 Cup Italian Bread Crumbs

Shredded Parmesan Cheese

1/4 Cup Olive Oil

All right now.  Take your two large eggplants and remove the top and bottom ends. Not too much, though. After you do that, slice the eggplants in half and, using either a knife or a spoon, remove most of the inside, but leave enough so that the skin maintains its form. Make it a little boat, basically. Once you do that, put the innards in a large pan and brown them with olive oil. Remember that the inside of an eggplant is basically a sponge, so be careful with how much oil you use. It’s a matter of preference, but remember we’re trying to stay a little healthy here. Let the eggplant cool a bit while you do this next, incredibly gross step, and go ahead and preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (sorry, non-US cooks).

In another large bowl, put in the meat. Use a little bit of olive oil and add the bread crumbs. You may want to add some seasonings of your own. I’m a big rosemary fan, for example, and garlic makes just about anything better, plus you have the added benefit of keeping vampires away. TIME TO GET YOUR HANDS MESSY. Once the meat is mixed and your fingers are sufficiently yucky, add the eggplant you carved out of the body. Mix it all together, then wash your hands for like five minutes.

Actually, don’t. You have to touch that concoction again. While trying not to grimace, take the meaty mixture and, in equal portions, place it into the carved out eggplant shells. Form it up real nice and pretty, then sprinkle your cheese across the top. This is going to get greasy while it cooks, so make sure whatever apparatus you’re cooking it in has sides that can catch it and not make your oven messy. Place your eggplant meat loafs (there should be four) in the apparatus (apparatuses? apparatii?) and cook for one and a half  hours.

After that initial time period, take them out. It’s highly unlikely they cooked all the way through, but check the inside to see where you’re at. You may need another thirty minutes, or maybe a full hour. Who knows? It depends on your oven.

The end result should look something like this:

Eggplant out of Hell

Why… hello there…

Enjoy the hell out of this.

This next recipe, meanwhile, is more of a side dish, but incredibly awesome. Again, I need to warn you about eggplant being a sponge – it will soak up oil quick.

Ingredients:

1 Eggplant

Olive Oil

Garlic

A Knife and Fork

Take your eggplant and cut it in half. Using a utility knife, cut the halves into strips (you choose the thickness, but the thicker it is, the more oil you’ll need), then remove the skin. You’ll be left with strips of eggplant. Now get a skillet and be a little generous with your oil here. Turn the heat up to about seven or eight on the dial. If you don’t have a numbered dial, what the hell kind of stove are you using? Anyway, fry the strips in that oil until you get a nice brown on either side. Add garlic to flavor. The result should be what you see on the right side of this plate:

You read that caption in Bob Ross' voice.

This looks nice.

All my creations (as well as pictures of my little girl, Elizabeth) can be found on Instagram under the username @joec_esquire.

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