Fans are so summery, aren’t they? And eggplant fans, well, what can I say? I can make an entire meal on eggplant alone. They’re so meaty, it picks up flavors like the little sponges that it is…and are, well, just delicious. It was a Marcus Samuelsson recipe that got me thinking about this. These eggplant were the perfect size and shape for this type of treatment. Not too large and relatively evenly shaped, from top to bottom. The very first thing you need to do is sharpen your knife, because a sharp knife is essential for these babies. We’re going to cut each eggplant in slices, a little less than 1/2-inch thick, but we want to leave them attached at the top. Then, we can fan them out. See? Don’t they look nice. I place them, fanned out slightly, on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Drizzle a little oil over them, a good sprinkle of kosher salt, and pop them into a preheated 475°F oven and bake them until they’re tender, about 15-20 minutes. While they bake, mix up the marinade ingredients. In the interest of full disclosure, I did throw them under the broil for about 1-2 minutes, just to further brown them. Immediately, upon removing them from the oven, pour the marinade over and let them cool to room temperature. If some of the marinade runs off, just spoon it back over them, from time to time. If you want to, I think you could put some thinly sliced fresh mozzarella in between the fans, return them to the oven just before serving and heat them just long enough for the mozz to melt. I may do that another time. This marinade is also a good marinade for other veggies.
Marinated Eggplant Fans
- 4 medium-sized or smaller eggplants, with the crown in tact
- Olive oil
- Kosher or Maldon® sea salt
- 3-6 cloves garlic, put through a press or very finely minced
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce (gluten-free if that’s an issue)
- 1-2 tablespoons maple syrup or brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Line a cookie sheet (with sides) with foil; set aside. Preheat the oven to 475°F.
Lay each eggplant on the cutting board. With a very sharp knife, plunge the knife straight down at the very top, just under the cap, and carefully cut straight through to the bottom, making each slice just a bit less than 1/2-inch. Don’t worry too much about the thickness; the important thing is that the slices are all about the same thickness. For each eggplant, I had about 5 or 6 slices. You want the slices to all be attached at the top. Repeat with all the eggplant. Carefully move the eggplants to the prepared cookie sheet. Gently fan them out. Drizzle with some olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Place the pan in the oven, on the bottom shelf, and roast until tender, about 15-20 minutes. (You can grill them if you prefer; the time will vary depending on how hot your grill is). While the eggplants roast, combine all the marinade ingredients in a small bowl. Taste the mixture. It will be slightly salty and adjust the sweetness to your liking.
You may want to broil the eggplant if they don’t seem brown enough. I usually do 1-2 minutes under the broiler. Remove the pan from the oven (turn off the oven), and immediately pour the marinade over the eggplant. I use a spoon to do this. I gently life each “leaf” up and pour some marinade inside. Let cool to room temperature. Occasionally spoon any marinade that runs off, back over the fans, if needed. You can make these earlier in the day and leave at room temperature or reheat in the microwave just before serving.
NOTE: This marinade is great for roasted or grilled vegetables. It’s simple and simply delicious. It’s pretty low-cal, too.
Marinated Eggplant Fans Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2018. All rights reserved.
As I mentioned in the note, this marinade is my go-to for veggies and is very nice to pour over steamed fish, as well. I love versatility and this works on every level, because it’s so easy to do, as well.
I love to use small eggplants to make this. They make a great first course, with some burrata cheese and well, they’re just damn cute. And I’m all about cute, you know.