I love eggplant, but I don’t like futzing with eggplant. I’m not big on soaking, and only salt it half of the time, not because I think I’m too good for all that, but because I’m lazy. Historically, my favourite eggplant cooking method is frying it hot and fast on a of scattering of salt, but my waffle maker has its eyes on the throne.
Waffled eggplant is similar to grilled eggplant. It results in a lovely pattern of dark brown marks, with tender, creamy flesh and a hint of char. It’s lovely, it’s easy, it’s a perfect weeknight side dish.
Preparing vegetables in the waffle maker is a clutch move in any instance. You don’t have to turn on the oven or occupy a burner, and the little machine doesn’t use much energy or generate much heat. The plates cook your food from both sides, so there’s no flipping, and the whole process takes a few minutes, max.
How to waffle an eggplant
Prepping the eggplant for the waffle maker is straightforward. Set your iron to high, slice your eggplant into 1/4-inch planks (peel it if you like), and brush the sides with olive oil (it will soak in immediately, but that’s ok). Sprinkle both sides with salt, then place in the centre of the waffle maker and close the lid.
It won’t close all the way at first. Gently press down on the top of the waffle maker every 10 seconds or so, being careful not to force it, until it closes fully. Let cook for 2-3 minutes, until the eggplant is charred and soft. (If it sticks at all when you try to remove it, use a wooden chopstick to set it free.)
In terms of finishing, a combination of oil, alliums, and herbs is sure to please, and A.A. Newton made some additional suggestions a few years back:
- Sesame oil, garlic, ginger, scallions, gochujang and rice vinegar
- Olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, capers, olives and parsley
- Peanut oil, fish sauce, lime juice, sweet chilli sauce, cilantro and crushed peanuts
- Yogurt, olive oil, dill, lemon juice and garlic
- Homemade chilli oil, soy sauce, chinkiang vinegar and sesame seeds
- Olive oil, sliced ripe tomatoes, basil and balsamic vinegar
A little dip or spread made with labneh, lemon juice, and za’atar also works, or you can layer them in a sandwich, or smash them into a dip themselves. (I made such a dip last night in a post-gym-vape-pen haze, and I think it worked out well.)
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