Recipe by Three Forks Grille | Photography by JMK Photography

Related to both the tomato and the potato, the eggplant is a beautiful and diverse veggie that thrives in our climate and conditions. When eaten raw, it features a bitter taste, but it becomes tender when cooked and develops rich, complex flavors while absorbing large amounts of cooking fats and sauces. Enjoy!

Eggplant Parmesan

Serves 4
Ingredients:
extra-virgin olive oil
2 large eggplants
salt and pepper
2 cups of housemade tomato sauce
1/2 cup of basil leaves
1 pound fresh mozzarella cheese: thick slices
1/2 cup grated parmigiano reggiano
1/2 cup flour
3 eggs
1 tablespoon milk
1 cup breadcrumbs
canola oil, for frying

Directions:
1.    Slice eggplant into 1/4 inch thick discs.
2.    Season with salt and pepper and let stand for 30 minutes, using paper towels to press any excess liquid off the eggplant.
3.    Set up breading station with three small bowls. Bowl 1: flour, Bowl 2: egg and milk (whisk together) Bowl 3: breadcrumbs
4.    Working with a couple of pieces of eggplant at a time, lightly dust the eggplant with flour, then dip into egg mixture and then into the breadcrumbs. Press breadcrumb into eggplant, making sure you have a complete crust.
5.    Once eggplant is breaded it needs to be fried in a heavy sauce pan with oil heated to about 350 degrees.
6.    Brown and crisp eggplant in oil, flipping once. Should take about five minutes for each.
7.    Drain excess oil on paper towels.
8.    Once all eggplant is fried, start assembling the parmesan layer.
9.    Start with sauce on the bottom, top with one layer of eggplant, then sauce, basil and half the parmesan and half the mozzarella. Repeat with more layers of eggplant, sauce, basil and cheese.
10    Bake in a preheated oven for 20 minutes at 450 degrees.

Baba ghanoush is of Levantine origin

Baba ghanoush is of Levantine origin

Baba Ghanoush

Serves 4
Ingredients:
1 large eggplant
1 lemon
1 teaspoon garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon Tahini
1 teaspoon mint, chopped
1 teaspoon parsley, chopped
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin & cayenne

Directions
1.    Rub eggplant with a little olive oil and place directly over a gas grill burner. Char eggplant completely, rotating it a few times. This should take about 10 minutes.
2.    Once completely charred let the eggplant steam in its own skin for about 10 more minutes.
3.    Once cool, peel and de-stem eggplant.
4.    In a food processor add eggplant and the rest of the ingredients except extra-virgin olive oil.
5.    Pulse mixture; it should be left a bit chunky. With the motor running add the extra-virgin olive oil slowly. If the mixture seems a bit thick add a touch of water.

Enjoy with pita and feta cheese!

Caponata comes from Sicily

Caponata comes from Sicily

Caponata

Serves 8 as an appetizer
Ingredients:
2 eggplants, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/2 red onion, sliced
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
1/2  cup golden raisins
1/2  cup capers
1/2  cup toasted pine nuts
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4  cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon canola oil

Directions:
1.    Season eggplant with extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.
2.    Grill or broil eggplant until done, about 15 minutes.
3.    Chop eggplant into 1/2 inch pieces and toss in a bowl.
4.    Heat medium frying pan until hot and add canola oil, red onions and salt and pepper.
5.    Cook until brown, about 5 minutes. Add sugar and vinegar.
6.    Cook until reduced by 3/4, almost syrupy.
7.    Add onion mixture and the rest of the ingredients into a bowl with eggplant.
8.    Mix thoroughly and serve.
Serve with crostini and ricotta cheese.

Three Forks Grille is located in downtown Columbia Falls, just a short distance from the wild and scenic three forks of the famed Flathead River. Head chef Chris DiMaio takes pride in his original dishes and recipes by using only the best local ingredients. He supports many local growers, something that is important to his mission. For more information, visit www.threeforksgrille.com