Think bright cilantro, flecks of garlic, and notes of zesty lemon and vinegar soaked up by roasted golden brown eggplant slices. Is your mouth watering yet? A farewell kiss to my CSA share, this recipe is the last to come from those morning pickups, which have been charming me weekly since June. It has come to an end for the season, foreshadowing the chilly months that lie ahead. Sensing it's completion as we neared squash and apple season, I've been squirreling away my goods ever since. Homemade tomato sauces and purees are resting in glass containers; jars of vinegary green tomatoes line shelves in my fridge, and bags of grilled corn are hibernating in the freezer.
On the last day, we could pick as many tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and eggplants as we wanted. Just shy of backing up a truck into the fields, my husband and I brought as many reusable bags as we could carry and set out to do some damage. This time of the year many of the overripe vegetables had already fallen to the ground. It's a shame to see what goes to waste. No vegetable was safe with us. We hunted down more than we could carry, including hidden bushels of eggplants. Many looked like they just needed more time to reach their full potential, a few more warm days, or some sunlight would have served them well. Time was running out and they wouldn't be given this opportunity. Most of the varieties we took home were Japanese eggplants, many smaller in size, but perfect for this recipe.
I realize I have overlooked sharing an eggplant recipe, which is ironic, given its weekly appearance on our dinner table since early summer. The wait is over. Cilantro and eggplant may seem like an odd pairing. Most of us are familiar with Italian style marinated eggplant with basil or oregano. However, I'm partial to cilantro, and I like to think outside the box. Trust me, I'm onto something here. It's unexpected and delightful. We just polished off our second batch in two days. It's also worth mentioning to resist temptation and wait a day before eating this. Marinating it overnight makes all the difference. You could enjoy this cilantro eggplant any number of ways. It works well in sandwiches, on crostini, crackers, topped on pizza. Me? I broil slices of sourdough bread drizzled with olive oil. Hot out of the oven, I slather the eggplant over top, making open-faced sandwiches. It can't be beat.
Greedy confession: one of the bags I mentioned earlier, the one holding the eggplant...well, that broke just as we walked into the kitchen. I'd say the CSA served us well. Until next year. And a thank you to those family members who happily accepted the extra overflow we acquired that morning. We couldn't help ourselves.
~Cilantro Marinated Eggplant Recipe~
5 small Japanese eggplants (approximately 5 cups, sliced)
1 tbsp olive oil (for brushing eggplant)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp olive oil (for cooking garlic)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/4 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/4 tsp sea salt
few grinds of pepper
Preheat your oven to broil. Cut eggplant into 1/4" slices and arrange on a baking sheet. Brush one side with olive oil, turn, and brush the other side. Place sheet of eggplant on the second shelf in your oven, broiling for 5-7 minutes on each side. The eggplant will be tender in the center, but slightly crisp and brown. Remove from the oven.
Mince garlic and cook in 1 tsp of olive oil over medium heat for a few minutes until it is fragrant and golden. Add to a food processor, along with cilantro leaves. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Add this mixture to the food processor. Give it a whirl until the dressing combines with the garlic and cilantro. In a small bowl, mix the eggplant slices with the marinade. Refrigerate for at least a few hours, even better to let it marinate for a day. Let it come to room temperature before serving. Serves 4 as an appetizer.