I've never been lucky enough to grow a prolifically fruiting eggplant bush. The bloke a couple of plots over seems to have a knack for it. I shall never forget the gorgeous plant, more like a tree, he grew a couple of years ago, covered for months in glorious pale purple flowers and long skinny purple-black fruit. Awe inspiring.
I have no such luck. After an optimistic burst of growth early in the season, my eggplant plants tend to stay fairly stationary for most of the year, producing a scattering of flowers and if we're lucky, one, maybe two fruit. And it's tricky to know what to do with a single eggplant.
Now hopefully, things will be different this season. It's been a slow start but the other day we got our first fruit. Just the one, there are others but they're a while off yet. And rather than buy some more eggplants and spoil the specialness of eating our homegrown fruit by mixing it in with the others; or wait for the others to ripen and risk having the first one spoil, I decided to find a recipe I could make with just one eggplant.
And I came back to a recipe I made sometime last year. Smoked eggplant salad. From Turkish Flavours by the intimitable, Sevtap Yuce. You should get her books, they're delish. The salad uses two eggplants, and serves four. So one eggplant - breakfast for two!
The recipe is simple: toast the eggplant on the stovetop until the skin is crispy and burnt and while it cools, chop a handful of parsley, a garlic clove, a tomato (I used a handful of yellow cherries from the garden, quartered) and a small green chilli. Peel the burnt skin from the eggplant and chop it too. Throw it all in together and season with salt, pepper, olive oil and lemon juice. Mix it all up. Serve it on crusty bread.
Everything but the garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper came from the garden. And it was perfect - I can't bloody wait for the next ripe eggplant.