Eggplant, or aubergine, is one of the more prolific crops that can be sourced all-year round in the Cayman Islands. Generally used as a vegetable, eggplant is actually a fruit that offers a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin B1, potassium and folate.
When buying eggplants, look for ones with smooth, shiny skin. Choose smaller eggplants as they tend to be sweeter and less bitter, and have thinner skin and fewer seeds than larger ones. To test for ripeness, lightly press a finger against the skin. If it leaves an imprint, the eggplant is ripe.
Here is an easy, healthful recipe that is also vegan and gluten-free:
Roasted eggplant dip
(also known as baba ghanoush)
4 medium local eggplants
1/4 cup (60 ml) tahini
1/4 cup (60 ml) lemon juice
2 to 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 teaspoon olive oil
Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and turn broiler on (high heat). Line a baking sheet with aluminium foil.
Place eggplants onto the baking sheet and prick in several places using a fork. This helps steam escape while the eggplants roast. Broil eggplants 2 minutes on all sides. The skin will darken a little and begin to smell smoky, adding lots of flavour to the dip.
Turn broiler off, but do not remove eggplants from the oven. Heat oven to 375 degrees F, and then roast eggplants until very soft, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool 10 to 15 minutes until easily handled.
Meanwhile, combine tahini, lemon juice, garlic, cumin and the salt in a medium bowl.
Split the roasted eggplants and scrape out the flesh and add to the tahini mixture. Discard excess liquid and skins.
Mash eggplant into tahini mixture with a fork until somewhat smooth with some texture remaining. Cool to room temperature, then stir in parsley and drizzle the top with olive oil and serve.
Maureen Cubbon is the wellness director for Bestlife Wellness Solutions and chef with Bon Vivant in Camana Bay.