I’m still in the mindset of “it’s too hot to turn on the oven, but I want to eat something delicious”, so once again inspired by my farmer’s market finds, I offer you this simple, quick, but flavorful dish. Aside from a little oil for the pan, just two ingredients: eggplant and mint. That’s it.
Eggplant: I was lucky enough to find some beautiful, baby eggplant, but I realize it is not common to find them. I suggest you use the smallest, skinniest eggplant you can find – the seeds will be smaller and the flesh will be far less bitter than the large globe eggplant most commonly found. My preference is Japanese eggplant, but Chinese eggplant are a good option as well.
Mint: please do not make this dish unless you can find fresh mint….dried mint will not do it justice.
Quantities: it depends upon the number of people you will be serving. I used one pound (450 grams) of eggplant and about 10 mint leaves, and ended up with 2 cups (1 pint, 475 ml) of the cooked dish, good enough for a side dish for 2-3 people. If you are cooking for more people, please adjustment amounts accordingly…using the amount of mint you want to meet your taste preferences.
- Slice the eggplant into 1/8″-1/4″ (.32 – .64 cm) rounds and set aside.
- Grease a cast iron griddle pan or skillet with a thin layer of spray oil or bottled oil (I used canola for it can handle high heat and has a neutral flavor), and place over medium heat. if you do not have a cast iron griddle pan or skillet, use a heavy-weight pan with a large surface area. Note: depending upon the amount of eggplant you are using, you might need to cook the eggplant in more two (or more) batches.
- Place each slice of eggplant flat on the heated pan/skillet.
- While the eggplant is cooking, separate the mint leaves from the stems and discard the stems. Coarsely chop the leaves and set aside.
- When the underside of each slice is golden brown, using tongs, flip each slice over to cook the other side. Depending upon the thickness of your slices and how hot your pan is, you’ll probably need about 5 minutes per side, but best to check after 3 minutes. If your pan gets too hot, turn it down a little. (Do not worry if some pieces are dark brown…will give character and texture to the dish.)
- When both sides are golden brown, remove the eggplant and put in a glass or ceramic bowl. Add the mint leaves and toss with a spoon. Best if served right away, but can be eaten later as well. If you wish, season with black pepper. What you’ll notice is that the natural sweetness of the eggplant comes out due to the slight caramelization that takes place in the cooking process.