The only unfortunate thing about eggplant is it’s name. Truly.
Kids everywhere decide they do not like eggplant before they even take a bite. I mean, think about it. Who wants to bite into a vegetable whose very name has the word “Egg” in it? Peculiar at best!
Unfortunately, my husband is one of those children and claims he missed out on many years of enjoying eggplant, simply because he thought it sounded gross. It’s one of his life’s biggest regrets, not knowing the true goodness of eggplant.
Um, yes, He really said “it’s one of his life’s biggest regrets.”
Now I don’t know about you, but If I could live life and have that be one of my life’s biggest regrets, I would think I’d be doing pretty well for myself.
It gets better, folks.
He contends that eggplant’s name should be instead called “awesomeplant”. Yeah.
So...from here on out, you will hear me refer to eggplant as awesomeplant. I know, I know….it is a pretty lofty idea to go ahead and change the name of a popular vegetable. But when my husband suggests something, I listen. Not only do I like the guy, I think he may be onto something.
And boy, do I have an awesome awesomeplant recipe for you today!
All you have to do is show me a picture of awesomeplant sliced up and fashioned into little pizzas, and I’m on board. I tried it and my-oh-my--it was so delicious that I turned around the next night and tweaked it to make it more awesomer. Um, is awesomer a word? Well, it should be.
Here is the original recipe from the Great Kalyn Kitchen Guru. (I’ve actually never met her, but after tasting this recipe, I am very sure she is not only Great, but also a Guru.) I felt that I could tweak it, because hey--it was actually Julia Child’s recipe first, and then Kalyn tweaked it. So I think tweaking is now fair game. I’m just glad that I didn’t have to be the brave one who changed a Julia Child recipe in the first place.
I put my very similar recipe for you here below. Try it. You will not be disappointed! (Oh, and make sure your children help you with the first part of this recipe. Science in action! You will get to see first-hand how salt can actually P-U-L-L water out through the process of osmosis. I have also included a link below if you’d like a lesson plan regarding this. It will ask your children to predict what will happen when you put salt on an eggplant!).
(or Awesomeplant pizzas, for those not resistant to change)
2 globe eggplants
1 T. Sea Salt, or enough to moderately sprinkle over eggplant slices to draw out water
2 T olive oil for brushing tops of eggplant before roasting
2 tsp. Italian Seasoning (or 21 Seasoning Salute from Trader Joe’s)
10 large basil leaves, chopped into short strips
⅓ C. freshly grated Parmesan
1 block of fine mozzarella, like Belgioioso
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
sliced, fresh tomato
I-2 cups of your favorite marinara sauce (the original recipe features a mighty fine recipe, if you'd like to make your own)
Cut off both ends of the eggplant, and cut into 1-inch slices. Sprinkle both sides generously with salt. (let your child help with this!) Lay on paper towels (the eggplant, not you).
Check it out....it's so cool how the water just pools on top!
Meanwhile, heat the oven to 400 degrees. Tell your children to watch the eggplant intermittently throughout the 30 minutes and have them make observations. (See below for an explanation of this scientific reaction.) Use this time to also chop garlic and basil. After 30 minutes, blot both sides of the eggplant slices, to remove water and excess salt. Then, with a pastry brush, top with olive oil and Italian or TJ’s 21 Salute Seasoning. Roast for 15-20 minutes, being careful not to roast so much that the eggplant becomes mushy.
When finished roasting, remove from oven, and adjust oven temp to broil. Then, top each eggplant slice with basil strips, sprinkle with chopped garlic and a generous helping of marinara sauce. Add a thick slice of mozzarella and top with grated parmesan cheese.
Place under broiler until top is bubbly and light brown.
Let cool slightly, top with a slice of fresh tomato and red pepper flakes, if desired. Enjoy.
So...about that eggplant and salt trick…
Osmosis is when water moves across a semi-permeable membrane (i.e. the outside layer of the cell) from an area with low levels of dissolved material (solute) to an area with a high levels of dissolved material (solute) In this case, the salt sprinkled on top of the eggplant dehydrated the plant by drawing the water across the eggplant cell membranes and out of the eggplant! (credit to www.amnh.org)
For an awesome lesson plan put out by The Museum of Natural History about Salt and Plant Cells (and starring none other than our friend, the eggplant himself), click here.