dainty and colorful, like the dragonfly:::
The dragonfly dipped and swooped over the asphalt, kissing its shadow quickly then alighting again over and over. Like a toy helicopter, it rose and swooped. This dance, so delicate, was almost soundless. For whatever reason as I watched this dragonfly, seasonally unexpected, I thought of my dainty eggplants sitting in the kitchen, gracefully donated to me from a friend with a bountiful garden. The eggplants were a perfect shade of purple, the smallest with the deepest hue I’ve ever seen on a vegetable, like the profound concentrated color of a syrupy port. They shone like the iridescent dragonfly too, narcissistically and playfully dancing with its shadow.
What better than to showcase the beauty of the eggplants, than to have them do what they do best: soak up and carry flavor. Eggplants often get pigeonholed into Eggplant Parmigiana dishes of every permutation (skinned or not, fried or baked, ricotta or not, you get the picture). Try something other than marinara and Parmesan cheese: miso. A little unexpected in some circles, but a definite winner. And some ginger. And vinegar. Your new favorite.
While you can use the hefty, large eggplants, the smaller Asian eggplants work better here. Easy to turn into appetizers and no need to peel. Sit back and enjoy the unexpected, much like itinerant dragonflies.
- 3 tablespoons shiro miso (white miso)
- 1½ tablespoons rice vinegar (not seasoned)
- scant 1 tablespoon water
- 2 heaping teaspoons sugar
- ½ tablespoon finely grated peeled fresh ginger
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (and additional for brushing pan)
- 3 Asian eggplants, halved lengthwise*
- 1 scallion, finely chopped
- Preheat broiler.
- Whisk together miso, vinegar, water, sugar, and ginger until sugar is dissolved.
- Brush a large shallow pan with oil and arrange eggplant, cut sides up, in the pan. Brush tops with 1 tablespoon oil (total). Broil eggplants 4 to 6 inches from heat until it begins to turn pale golden and soften, 4 to 5 minutes.** Brush generously with miso mixture and broil 2 minutes more.***
- Brush eggplant with miso again and rotate pan 180 degrees (do not turn eggplant over), then continue to broil until eggplant is tender and glaze is golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Serve sprinkled with scallions.