Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
3 tsp olive oil
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
bed of salad greens, rice, or chickpea pasta (pictured)
toasted pita or whole wheat bread
pinch of sumac
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.
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)
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