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Simple Pan-Seared Eggplant


Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Servings: 2

Ingredients:

  • Sea salt

  • 3 tsp olive oil

  • 1 eggplant

  • 5 garlic cloves (or 1/2 shallot, or both)

  • 2 thyme sprigs


Optional Garnish & Seasoning:

  • 1/2 lemon, juiced

  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper

  • salt and black pepper to taste


For Serving

  • bed of salad greens, rice, or chickpea pasta (pictured)

  • toasted pita or whole wheat bread

  • pinch of sumac

  • cilantro


Directions:

1. Prepare the eggplant:

  • slice the eggplants in half, length-wise.

  • use a paper towel to press down in the inside of the eggplant to remove excess moisture; repeat 2-3 times for each piece, or until very little moisture comes off on the paper towel.

  • season the inside of each eggplant with a thin layer of olive oil (approximately 1/2 tsp per piece) and *sea salt.

2. Prepare the skillet:

  • preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

  • place cast iron skillet (or other oven safe skillet) over medium heat on the stovetop; allow the pan to warm up for about 5 minutes, or until the pan sizzles when you drizzle a pit of water on top of it.

  • add 1 tsp olive oil (or avocado oil) to the cast iron.

  • once the oil is warm (after 30 seconds to 1 minute), add each piece of eggplant to the skillet, flat-side down (to sear the inside of the eggplant).

  • sear the eggplant for about 7 minutes, or until the edges of the eggplant begin to appear golden;

  • add garlic, shallots, and thyme to the saucepan; cook until fragrant and slightly golden (2 to 3 minutes) and baste the eggplant with your fragrant, herby olive oil.

3. Transfer the skillet to the oven:

  • transfer the skillet to the oven and cook for an additional 10 minutes, or until a fork easily punctures through the eggplant and the eggplant is soft.

  • after the eggplant is soft, remove from heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

4. Serve:

  • choose your base (salad greens, pita bread, rice, pasta);

  • place eggplant over base;

  • drizzle lemon juice;

  • sprinkle your favorite spices (crushed red pepper, black pepper, salt, and sumac go well with this dish)

Notes:

  • salting the eggplant is essential to achieving that highly-coveted 'crispy on the outside, soft on the inside' texture we love with seared eggplant; it also removes some of the bitterness from the overall flavor - don't skip this step!

  • to make eggplant a bit easier to digest, you can peel off some of the skin length-wise, so that the eggplant has a "striped" appearance.

  • yogurt with dill and cucumber is an excellent, cooling balance to serve atop your seared eggplant

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