I have been having some serious eggplant-peanut ideas. It has been way too long since I've had a good plate of baigan bhartha, for instance. This must and will happen in the near future. In the meantime, I've been sitting around going through all the vegan blogs, salivating over things such as eggplant-peanut soup. For some reason we have no actual peanuts around, though: only peanut butter. Granted it is excellent peanut butter with a big layer of peanut oil on the top, but it was not enough to make up for my other missing ingredients. So I decided to make something up instead.
Crusty crusty eggplant steaks
a little eggplant or two
good peanut butter
pinch of salt
(If you want rice or other long-cooking grain with your eggplant, put it on before everything else.)
First, make delicious sauce. Get several spoonfuls of peanut butter, some smashed and peeled cloves of garlic, a glob of tahini, a little salt, and several good glugs of olive oil into a mixable bowl, food processor, or blender. Process into a smooth slurry. You may need to add some water to thin this down to your preferred consistency; we left ours pretty thick.
Get a frying pan nice and hot. Or you can preheat the oven (or toaster oven! yay!) to 350F for bakey eggplant goodness.
Cut the eggplant(s) into long steaks about 3/4 inch thick. If you want to do the salting and letting sit thing, go for it. I don't want to, so I'm not going to. We were using those thin little Italian eggplants about six or eight inches long; you can use whatever kind of eggplant you have around. It would be pretty sweet to just split a bunch of those little egg-shaped ones in half and use them like that, with maybe some slits into the flesh. You'd have to use the oven for that one. Anyway.
Brush the eggplant slices with some olive oil and coat them in the sauce. Put them into the frying pan in one layer.
Now you have to wait around. While you're waiting, make couscous or whatever else you want to eat with delicious eggplant of this nature. I would also recommend some cucumbery salad with yogurt or oil and vinegar.
Check the eggplant after ten minutes or so. Are they getting nice and browned on the underside? Then it is time to flip them over. Be careful, especially if you left your sauce thick; this stuff likes to flake off in big clumps if you let it. It doesn't actually matter much to taste, but composition.
Leave everything in the pan for five minutes to brown on the other side.
When things are done, plate them: grain of some type, eggplant steaks with their crusty bits flying everywhere, whack of salad on the side.
I was not entirely happy with this business, mostly because of the copious sauce flakes. I mean, it was not bad, but I kept thinking about how to make it better. How to make it better: thin the sauce way down and make the whole thing into more of a braise, with thick but liquid sauce surrounding the eggplant. I would consider adding a can of coconut milk in future as well. That way you could have thick creamy peanutty garlicky stew full of melty eggplant chunks.
This kind of sounds like I just really want baigan bhartha still. Well.