Eggplant and the Five Freedoms

Eggplant is in season.  As a family that eats locally and seasonally that means that we must embrace eggplant. And while I really enjoy this dense meaty vegetable, I have a very hard time selling it at my dinner table.  This past week, my curry with eggplant had the guys leaving skid marks in the driveway on their way to In and Out Burger.

The Inspiration

So, I continue my search for family friendly menu items that incorporate eggplant and at the same time, respect my kids tastes as long as they in turn, respectfully try all dishes.  Although many readers of this blog are from countries outside of the US, my eggplant challenges allowed me to focus on something that is uniquely American.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble; and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” –First Amendment to the United States Constitution

The First Amendment of the US Constitution creates what are known as the Five Freedoms and what are often called the foundation of what has made this country unique. The tie with eggplant? I found eggplant an excellent venue to discuss the Five Freedoms in our home.

Freedom of Speech

We are blessed with the right to say what we want to say but it’s imperative that we remember that we remain accountable for our words. And it’s also imperative to remember that this is not just our right but everyone’s regardless of our interest in what they are saying or our alignment with their position. And, as the linked article points out, the First Amendment doesn’t guarantee the right to not be offended.

Freedom of Religion

This country was founded by those who felt they were under religious persecution and as such, the first 16 words crystalize religious liberty as an inextricable right.

Praying that there will be no more eggplant

Freedom of the Press

A free and lively flow of information enables a society to keep others honest. One of the things that I am most concerned with in today’s society is our self-selection of our media which has a tendency to restrict flow and is often inclusive of those who think just like us.

Press

Freedom of Assembly

While we may not see this as often now, our history is rich with examples of individuals using the right to assemble  as a method of communicating their cause.

Assembly

Freedom of Petition

The last of the five freedoms, the right to petition, is one way that Americans make their desires known. It grants us the right to ask our government to correct things that we believe should be changed.

Petition

Have you ever used food to squeeze in a lesson?

Eggplant Teriyaki
Adapted from Phoenix Magazine, October 2009
Serves 4 to 6
Ingredients:
  • 1 cup teriyaki sauce (I use TJ’s soyaki)
  • 2 Tbs Nama Shobu
  • 2 Tbs oyster sauce
  • 1 Tbs honey
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 Tbs chile garlic sauce
  • 4 medium eggplant

Whisk the first 6 ingredients together in a bowl and set aside. Cut off the tops and bottoms of each eggplant, then cut the eggplant in half lengthwise. Cut each half into wedges so that the bottom skinned edge is approx. 1.5 inches wide. With the knife, make four or five slashes into the flesh of each piece. Do not cut all the way throught.  Place the eggplant into the bowl with the marinade. Toss to coat and let marinate at least 1 hour.  Preheat oven to 375. Place eggplant pieces skin side down on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Place into overn for 30 minutes or until flesh is very soft.

My 7 year old actually said, “mom, when you are the captain of a vegetarian club, you should share this recipe.”

Leave a comment

120 Comments

  1. Excellent post. Like your son, I am exercising my first amendment right to say . . .

    I don’t like eggplant! It’s icky. 8)

    Last year, I tried to find recipes that worked with the eggplant we got from the CSA . . . like eggplant lasagna.

    While better than naked eggplant . . . it was still the worst tasting lasagna I’d ever eaten.

    Fried eggplant . . . yuck.

    Eggplant parmigiana . . . lot of effort for little return.

    Every other veggie, I can eat “as is” without adding fats and sauces to camouflage their deliciousness.

    Not eggplant.

    In the end, I traded my eggplant for other veggies (broccoli, onions, peppers, carrots, beans, greens, etc.) and left the eggplant for eggplant lovers.

    Reply
    • They will be happy to hear that they are not alone! I have a caponata in the fridge that I actually like a lot but I’m afraid I’m alone in this.

      Reply
      • In NJ, we would occasionally get an antipasta platter from a local restaurant to eat for dinner with fresh baked rolls ~ broccoli salad, tomato and mozzarella salad, assorted olives, cheeses, meats (pre-vegetarian days), etc.

        When we ordered it, we told them to keep the caponata for someone who could appreciate it. ; )

        Reply
      • OK. Now, I officially feel like a blog stalker! 🙂

        I forgot to mention the one way my mom used to prepare eggplant that we liked as kids . . . moussaka.

        I wouldn’t eat it now (b/c of the lamb) but something about the sauce or preparation made the eggplant palatable.

        Whether or not your “boys” ever enjoy eggplant, using it as a teaching moment shows true brilliance on your part.

        Cheers!

        Reply
      • This recipe sounds so delicious to me you have no idea!

        Also this post was incredibly hilarious with the whole Bill of Rights application.

        Awesome, awesome post! (and I usually don’t say that about posts about Eggplant)

        Reply
    • Tammy, I have to say, tying in eggplant and Freedom is clever; I’m not sure it’s ever been done! Too fun!

      I’ve been mulling over an eggplant idea in my mind lately, too, which is weird! I like it; but not any ol’ way.
      If I eat it fully plain, steamed, I can only take so much and it becomes nauseous. But then, again, I think it can be delicious, too!

      Reply
    • Have you tried giving tham Ratatouille! It’s a great way to use all the surplus veggies of summer and who doesn’t like roaste vegetables!
      Blueberryhillsfarm.wordpress.com

      Reply
      • I honestly can’t remember if I’d given it to them before. I did just get a couple more eggplant but have since learned to “melt them” with olive oil and pour it over pasta. No one knows!

        Reply
  2. It is gratifying to see how conscious and well informed your family are about their rights, Tammy….mine here in the UK don’t have that wonderful constitution, and having read your article my children are now checking out the raft of 1,000 year old common law and case law to see how they can argue the case for no courgettes.

    Fabulous article….thankyou:-)

    Reply
  3. Ha! Do you think it would help if you said it was aubergine instead?

    My favorite meat-and-three in Lexington, Kentucky, serves a really good zucchini burger. It’s a fully loaded burger, but instead of meat, it has grilled zucchini. It might be just as good with grilled eggplant.

    Reply
    • Hmmm , haven’t heard of a meat and three. And yes, I ought to have called it aubergine for the international readers.

      Reply
      • Actually, I was wondering whether the kids might eat eggplant if you call it something else.

        KIDS: “Is this eggplant?”

        YOU: “It’s aubergine. You’ll love it!”

        I guess meat-and-three is a Southern thing. It’s what the name implies: meat and three vegetables (and sweet tea and something like chess pie for dessert, if you want the full experience).

        Reply
  4. I will eat eggplant but I can’t say it’s one of my favorites.

    Reply
  5. So, did they really exercise the Sixth Freedom, the freedom to bail out and go to In and Out Burger?

    I love eggplant. I recently discovered that some people who say they hate it seem to lap up Baba Ganoush with gusto, not knowing that it’s made with eggplant. Maybe not a kid solution, but worth a try. It freezes well, too.

    The big dinner table lesson for my son was, “this is what we’re having…”

    Reply
    • Yes, they exercised freedom to bail but I have to tell you that with the particular recipe, I didn’t blame them. I’ve erased it from the recipe file.

      Reply
  6. You are a clever woman! You tie in anything with food – especially a subject that makes many nod off (though it shouldn’t) and you have a literary banquet. Thank you. Well done.

    Reply
  7. Jane

     /  September 26, 2010

    Laughed out loud to know this happens to someone other than myself: “my curry with eggplant had the guys leaving skid marks in the driveway…”

    Thank you for the creative spin! Sometimes I get so upset when someone doesn’t like what I like or what I have made. This puts everything into perspective.

    Reply
  8. HA! Tammy–alone in her kitchen with an eggplant!
    But, a clever weave of civics in the process—fun post.
    I do love the aubergine–but when I was your sons’ age I would have done anything to Not eat it.

    Reply
  9. thehungryscholar

     /  September 26, 2010

    This is the best post ever! We should have like a Bloggers Academy Awards. Great work! Ha, ha.

    Reply
  10. It’s funny that they came up with the petition 🙂
    We’re lucky we love eggplants… we make put them in curry, chutney, salad or stir fried.

    Reply
  11. Turns out the nutritional value of eggplant is negligible.

    One serving contains LESS THAN 5% of the following vitamins and minerals:

    Vitamin C 3%
    Calcium 1%
    Iron 1%
    Thiamin 2%
    Riboflavin 2%
    Niacin 3%
    Pantothenic Acid 2%
    Vitamin B6 3%
    Potassium 5%
    Phosphorus 2%
    Magnesium 3%
    Zinc 1%
    Copper 3%
    Cholesterol 0%

    So, I picked a good veggie to dislike. 8)

    Reply
    • Ok, that you did and I’ve never seen this before. Good find Nancy.

      Reply
    • Saskia

       /  December 11, 2010

      Just wanted to add something to this comment about the nutritional content of aubergine/eggplant. Although it is true that it’s not exactly bursting with the main vitamins & minerals (although it’s not exactly devoid of them either – 5% of your daily needs in one serving of a vegetable isn’t bad! The figures quoted above actually look a bit lower than those I’ve seen before, though, but perhaps the serving size was defined differently), it is an extremely good dietary source of antioxidants. The phytonutrient nasunin is found in the skin (it is what gives the purple colour), a powerful antioxidant which has been shown to protect cell membranes from damage. They also contain high levels of phenolic acids, which have been linked to many different health benefits, such as cancer protection, LDL cholesterol reduction, and anti-viral effects. Lab tests involving feeding animals aubergine juice found it reduced cholesterol dramatically and improved blood flow. Some people actually class it as a “superfood” due to these properties, so it’s probably a bit unfair to say that the nutritional value is negligible!

      The key is to eat the skin too, as that is where a lot of the nutrients are stored.

      There are some other things to bear in mind when comparing its nutritional value to other foods. One is that it doesn’t look as good when compared by volume as it does when compared by weight. Most comparison sites I’ve seen tend to show the values for 1 cup of the food by default, which is a rather arbitrary figure to say the least! The same volume of some other vegetables weighs almost twice as much, so if you compare by weight aubergine looks pretty good. It looks even better when you take into account the ratio of nutrients to calories, as it is relatively low in calories so the nutritional value per calorie is extremely good. The other thing is that the nutritional data for cooked aubergine is usually based on it being boiled – how many of us actually eat it that way?! Boiling is one of the least nutritious ways to prepare most vegetables, and I would imagine that with a more “juicy” one like aubergine it would be even worse as lots of the juice will leach into the water! Most recipes for aubergine involve frying or stewing (which is similar to boiling but anything that leaches out will remain in the sauce), which are likely to retain more nutrients.

      Reply
  12. Great post, Tammy! I have to say – I vote with your husband & kids – I know I ***should*** like eggplant for all the health reasons stated above, but it’s one of the 3 foods I most dislike.

    LOVED the tie-in with ‘the five freedoms’ – gosh, I don’t think i had remembered all of that from high school – thanks!

    Reply
  13. I’ll have to try this eggplant recipe, as I’m only just coming to like it myself. I’m still tending towards roasting and pureeing it, but I do love the flavours in your recipe, so might take the textural leap to unroasted eggplant…

    Reply
  14. I’m afraid I must join the “Eggplant is Icky” movement. >_> Good luck selling it to someone else though.

    Reply
  15. We call it brinjal here, and I still can’t get my lot to buy into the idea of it 🙂

    Reply
  16. I like it crumbed and fried Italian style

    Reply
  17. Eggplant is one of the very few things I have to convince my husband to eat so we can have it more often at home 🙂

    Reply
  18. Love this, and love eggplant, and your eggplant curry sounds very tempting to me. I enjoyed the way you incorporated it into your lessons on the American constitution. What a great idea. I can’t say I appreciated eggplant early in life but having it later in restaurants and homes of people that really knew how to fix it and with the addition of all sorts of spices. Before you know it, they’ll be thanking you for your grit and determination in showing them the virtues of this amazing food =)

    Reply
  19. Lisa H

     /  September 27, 2010

    Over the years I have learned to like eggplant. The first time I actually really enjoyed the taste was when you grilled thin slices during one of your big family meals. I’ve been better at including it in our meals through the years and found our favorite way to eat eggplant is in moussaka. Rather than frying the very thin slices, I grill them. The flavor is better and it saves on calories (less oil).
    You did a fabulous job of incorporating the kids into your blog! Way to go boys!

    Reply
  20. Wonderful blog, picture and vege ! I am not kidding, I love eggplant or melanzane (Italy) or aubergine (France) or berenjena (Spain), a must around the Mediterranean Sea. I liked them grilled together with zucchinis. Then I make a vinaigrette with herbs, lemon juice and olive oil, spread this sauce on the grilled veges, put them in the fridge for a few hours. It does taste delicious… if one likes eggplants 😉

    Reply
  21. Love this Tammy, what a great way to use food for squeezing in a lesson 🙂

    I have this eggplant salad (spread) recipe I LOVE, here’s the link to it in case you’ve missed it on my blog a while back http://estrella05azul.wordpress.com/2010/05/16/recipe-of-the-month-eggplant-salad/
    We have just finished mashing eggplants over the weekend for this following winter, so I’m currently full of eggplants, but can’t wait to make some more of this great spread 🙂

    Reply
  22. Love the way you captured the lesson to include in a recipe.
    As for eggplant, I like good old Eggplant Parm, but I’d take other veggies over it any day. Eggplant is pretty versatile so it makes it difficult to ignore when you want a change.

    Reply
  23. I love the eggplant petition. That is hilarious. Eggplants have to be cooked a certain way for that yummy flavour. Your eggplant teriyaki sounds delicious.

    Two of my favourite eggplant dishes are:

    Baked Eggplant with Miso
    http://tastespace.wordpress.com/2010/01/28/baked-asian-eggplant-with-miso/

    Turkish Eggplant, Tomato and Lentil Stew with Pomegranate
    http://tastespace.wordpress.com/2010/09/07/turkish-eggplant-tomato-and-lentil-stew-with-pomegranate/

    Reply
  24. Your blogs are so creative. I love this and I love eggplant!

    Reply
  25. littlehousesouthernprairie

     /  September 28, 2010

    this is super funny! i like eggplant — if we’re describing the color of some lovely winter mittens or a formal dress. 🙂

    Reply
  26. Fabulous post! Your eggplant recipe looks great AND are one of the rare people these days accurately invoking the Constitution! Inspiring : )

    BTW–Caponata is one of my favorite ways to serve eggplant. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/bobby-flay/grilled-caponata-recipe/index.html

    Reply
  27. I absolutely adore eggplant. So delicious [as long as it’s cooked enough]. Thanks for helping me decide what to have for dinner tonight. :-}

    Reply
  28. Kath (Eating for Living)

     /  September 29, 2010

    What a great and funny post! It made me laugh! Tbh, I also don’t like eggplant at all! So I think I should try you recipe! 😀

    Reply
  29. Hi Tammy,

    Thanks for the comments on my blog. Im trying to simplify my recipes a little… they can get a little long and complicated. You must use the pasta maker though! Once you get into it, you cant go back!

    I love your blog too! I had about 10 eggplant plants last Australian summer, growing a range of heirlooms. I made moussaka, eggplant parmigana, eggplant kasundi, eggplant curry (Thai Green Curry is great for eggplant), grilled eggplant, tomato based pasta with mushroom and eggplant, plus a variety of other spiced and fried eggplant dishes. Eggplant also makes a great dip and they are great stuffed. I love eggplant, it truly is a meat for vegetarians. Although im not one, i know that if i was, id be happy to live with eggplant as a subsitute!

    Go eggplant!

    Reply
    • I would like to find a good curry recipe that works for me. As I mentioned before, the one I tried was not a hit. Thai green curry is a great suggestion.

      Reply
  30. I’ve used food for science and math lessons but never for political or social lessons. Well done and very entertaining.

    Reply
  31. This post was a hoot! I’m glad I like eggplant, although the nutrition stats make me a little sad…I’m not sure what would help your kids like eggplant, but I’ve got a bulgur with cheese and eggplant recipe that I really like on my blog, and tonight made (but haven’t posted yet) about grilled eggplant with a sweet-and-sour tomato sauce. Good luck!

    Reply
  32. I love how you put eggplant and the five freedoms together–and with such humor! Very creative and fun. So the fam liked the recipe, I take it? I can’t say that I’ve been a big fan of eggplant, either…

    Reply
  33. Oh dear I’ve never had eggplant! Funny post!

    Reply
  34. What an entertaining blog Tammy! I must say I don’t mind egg plant, especially if prepared well, but give me brussel sprouts and I am on my way.

    Love the petition! I would’ve signed one to the brussel sprout brigade!

    Reply
  35. What a great post! Your kids are awesome!

    I used to hate eggplants until the very pushy owner of the Indian restaurant near my house (who will often make a little bite of food and feed you right from your fork!) insisted I try his eggplant pakora, and not pay for it if I didn’t like it. I loved it, and it changed things forever. Eggplant not cooked well is just about the nastiest thing there is. But eggplant cooked properly…

    I have had good luck converting the eggplant haters in my life with the following two recipes:

    REALLY good baba ganoush: http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2008/07/baba-ganosh/

    and delicious baingan bharta, an Indian dish where the eggplant is unrecognizable either visually or by flavor: http://www.grouprecipes.com/19879/smoky-indian-eggplant-baingan-bartha.html You can puree this in the food processor if it’s still too “eggplant” at the end. 🙂

    Reply
  36. I LOVE eggplant!! One of my favorite dishes is Lidia Bastianich’s Chicken with Eggplant (Pan roasted chicken breasts topped with layers of fresh mozzerella, basil and ligthly fried eggplant slices all smothered in a fresh tomato sauce and chicken stock. I have no recipe for this as we saw her make it on her TV show ‘Lidia’s Italy’ and just make it off of that. It is sooooo delicious! AND, made in one pan!

    Another great eggplant dish is eggplant rolotini (thinly sliced eggplant, dipped in egg and fried, then spread with a ricotta cheese mixture, rolled up and baked. Served with mariana sauce – delicious!

    Reply
  37. We love eggplants in our family. Especially we eat it in moussaka.

    Reply
  38. Good to see that you constitute the government in your home, Tammy 😀

    As for eggplant…erk, my mouth immediately waters at the thought of Moussaka – I’ve a way to go to becoming vegetarian!!

    Reply
  39. I don’t like eggplant. Sam I am!

    Reply
  40. Oh, how this made me laugh. I go through the same thing with my family, not only on eggplant, but avacodo, onions, and sqaush. Blessings,Kathleen

    Reply
  41. Hello tammy!

    What a beautiful post!! I was smiling when reading this!! hahahahaha,…!!

    By the way, I love eggplants!

    Reply
  42. Ha! Your family’s campaign against the eggplant is hilarious!

    I am a rather particular eggplant-eater. But I always love Asian eggplant dishes, and so I can see why your Eggplant Teriyaki was a hit, even with your anti-eggplant kids. I am also a fan of moussaka. And we might post a recipe for honey-garlic eggplant soon, which was really good!

    Reply
  43. What a great blog! Praying against eggplant…laughing. That’s what a garden does for you. We can’t grow good eggplant this far north. Come to think of it, I can count the number of eggplant dishes I’ve made on two hands. Now zuchini is another matter…some of us have been praying for “no more zuchini!” after a long productive summer. (not this year.)

    Reply
  44. I saw that you tried my veggie paella. How did it go? I have also posted a recipe for my favourite roasted aubergine (eggplant) dip as part of a mezze. Even the most stubborn of aubergine haters have been known to come round to this. It’s sweet because of the peppers and great with flatbreads.
    Let me know if you try it on the kids!!

    Reply
  45. A very fun post!
    Yes, eggplant is a hard sell for many. My girlfriend hates it and the only way I can get her to indulge in eggplant is to cut it very small and add it to soups or risotto so it sort of melts into the dish.
    You already are the “captain” of the vegetarian club!
    Gio

    http://goldentable.wordpress.com/

    http://giovannicucullo.wordpress.com/

    Reply
    • Thanks Gio. I hadn’t thought about “hiding” it but that’s not a bad idea. I’ve done that with other things in the past.

      Reply
  46. Ozarkhomesteader

     /  October 5, 2010

    I like eggplant. That said, if I had to choose between my Constitutional freedom and eggplant, I’d go for Constitutional freedoms. Unfortunately, I think we’re losing them. Deep sigh. Eggplant season is almost over too, but I’m sure that at least will come back next year.

    Reply
    • I think one of the reason that they are at risk is because we don’t know them! That’s why I took the time with the boys. Of course, I’m paying dearly now as they are exercising freedom of speech over everything.

      Reply
  47. I personally love eggplant, but I know plenty of people who don’t. I gather the texture is a big issue for them – pretty hard to disguise. My partner enjoys baba ganuj, but is otherwise not keen.

    Reply
  48. ha ha. this is a great post! its a funny name for a vegetable. and its a funny color. so there are two turn-offs right away. but my 3 year old loves it roasted. i sneak it in along with roasted zucchini and peppers and i have never actually told him that its eggplant.

    i also love eggplant in:

    ratatouille
    eggplant parmesan
    baba ganoush

    you have inspired me to post these recipes. maybe we can dedicate a month to eggplant!

    Reply
  49. Thanks for leaving me a comment on my blog so I can find your wonderful one! Eggplants and beets are the two hardest things to sell at my dinner table. Still hunting for a recipe that will somehow make both taste amazing to me!

    http://thelonelywifeproject.wordpress.com/

    Reply
  50. Jason Ellis

     /  February 17, 2013

    Eggplant Teriyaki? Ummm… I’m so making this this weekend 🙂 This post was insanely creative. If you can do this much with the topic of Eggplant, I can’t wait to see what else this blog has in store.

    Reply
  51. Reblogged this on Rose of Sharon Healing and commented:
    An interesting example of Freedom. I am thankful I live in a country who allows their citizens freedom. It’s been hard fought for.

    Reply
  52. I used to have a problem with eggplant because of all the seeds. It would become just a dish full of seeds. So now I buy the small Italian eggplants, or just the ones that don’t look pregnant with seeds, and it’s solved that problem..

    Reply
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