When I saw the eggplant in my CSA basket last week, I couldn’t contain my excitement. Yes, I yelped. I’ve been waiting for eggplant to appear for weeks, which is a funny thing since I didn’t eat it at all for many years.
When I was in my early 20s, coworkers of mine gushed about a fabulous eggplant parmesan sandwich sold at a local restaurant. They urged me to try it, but I sharply resisted … after all, eggplant was on my “no way” list. I played it safe with chicken parmesan, and told them no way, no how would I ever eat eggplant. Ever.
My aversion started in childhood. When I was a little girl, my mother used to tell me everything was chicken — what’s this shrimp-like thing? Chicken. This breaded circle? Chicken. The whole thing completely backfired. I didn’t eat shrimp until a few years ago. But the eggplant was the most traumatizing — when I bit into the breaded circle and felt seeds swimming around my mouth, I gagged. I didn’t eat eggplant for more than 20 years — close to 25.
Thank goodness for maturity. A few years ago, I started opening up to try things that I didn’t think I liked. After all, if I asked that of my husband, shouldn’t I be willing to try things again too? As a result, I have discovered a fondness for shrimp, an adoration of squashes and even a fondness for eggplant.
Back to the eggplant. All summer, I have been waiting to make two things: eggplant parmesan and ratatouille. I made ratatouille in the crockpot a few years ago, but I rarely use that anymore … and I wanted a version that would cook up faster and without heating the chicken. This Grilled Ratatouille does the trick.
Ratatouille is kind of like an all-star summer veggie dish. Eggplant, zucchini, onions, garlic, tomatoes and more are chopped and grilled in a foil packet until tender. Then the dish is finished with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. It’s warm and comforting and so flavorful. The vegetables retain their shape, but the flavors meld and blend … it’s just perfect.