My Aubergine Phase | Roasted Baby Aubergines
Did you ever have a purple phase? Maybe it began with your favorite My Little Pony, progressed into an unhealthy obsession with Lisa Frank, and ended after you saw photos of yourself in a grape-juice-colored prom dress. While I hope that my purple phase has progressed beyond the deep indigo walls of my teenage bedroom and the failed lilac dining room that is more recent than I’d care to admit, I’ve never really grown out of it.
With last week’s CSA basket of soft purple and feathered white eggplant, I began the latest stage in my purple phase. I swooned over their soft green caps, ogled their bean-like curves, and shrieked at their tiny, tiny size. Taking a little sophistication cue from the other side of the pond, I decided to call these guys aubergines (why this lovely word didn’t come to the States is a mystery to me). I think if I also rename my long-standing color obsession my “aubergine phase,” I can get away with it for a few more years at least.
Of course, I couldn’t just keep these babies around for eye-candy—I had to find a recipe worthy of them. This was more of a challenge than you might think. As a vegetarian, I am expected to be an eggplant connoisseur. Aside from being my only menu option in some restaurants, eggplant has never really thrilled me. Sure, bathe it in cheese and marinara, and I’ll dig in, and if my only choice is the obligatory roasted eggplant and red pepper sandwich, I’ll make do, but it’s never my first choice, and I’ve never cooked with it. Maybe I’ve been scared off by bitterness admonitions or just intimidated by the caveman-club size they can grow to. Or maybe I was just turned off by the name.