A Touch of Purple for Sukkot


Eggplant Marmalade. Photos by Dan KacvinskiThe eggplant has an important place in my kitchen and is one of my favorite vegetables to serve during Sukkot, the seven-day harvest festival that begins this year at sundown Sept. 30. The beautiful, glossy purple eggplant is appreciated and used extensively in Italy, Greece and France, as well as most Middle Eastern countries.

Eggplants come in many shapes and sizes. While most are purple, one mild variety has an ivory colored skin. The slender Japanese eggplants have a more tender skin and are a good choice for recipes that call for unpeeled eggplant. When shopping, look for eggplants that are firm and shiny without any soft spots.

This versatile, often neglected vegetable can be grilled, stewed, sautéed, baked, stir-fried or broiled. It can be served in casseroles, soups, salads, sandwiches, appetizers or main courses.

Several of the eggplant recipes I have chosen for my Sukkot meal also reflect the renewed interest in vegetarian food.

My most recent three-star killer dish is Fried Eggplant With Honey. Slices of peeled eggplant are soaked in milk overnight, coated with flour, fried in olive oil and served with honey. Delicious!

One of our family favorites is an eggplant and tomato appetizer, served either hot or cold. For a variation, use yellow tomatoes, available in most markets.

Many years ago we had lunch at Mustards Grill in Napa Valley, where they served an eggplant dish I often prepare at home. Elongated Japanese eggplants are cut lengthwise, like a fan, not disturbing the stem and not cut all the way through. Then they are covered with chopped garlic and olive oil, baked in the oven and served with a tomato sauce.

Eggplant Soup can be prepared in advance and is a perfect addition to the Sukkot meal. Serve steaming hot, in a large tureen, brought from your kitchen to the outdoor sukkah (booth).

To reflect the spirit of the festival and the autumn harvest, decorate your table as well as the sukkah with fruits, grains and vegetables, which include an assortment of eggplants.


∗ 2 large eggplants, about 2 pounds
∗ 4 cups sugar
∗ 4 cups water
∗ 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
∗ 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
∗ 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
∗ Grated peel of 1 lemon
∗ Juice of 1 lemon

Wash, peel and dice eggplant. Place eggplant in a large pot with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes; drain and set aside.

In a saucepan, combine sugar, water, ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon; bring to a boil. Add the eggplant, remove from heat, cover and allow to stand overnight in the refrigerator. The next day, remove the eggplant with a slotted spoon; bring syrup to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes until thick. Return the eggplant to the syrup and add lemon peel.

Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes until the syrup coats the edge of the spoon, or until a candy thermometer reaches 200 to 222 F. Stir in lemon juice. Ladle into hot, sterilized jars and seal according to canning directions.

Makes about 8 half-pints.


∗ Olive oil for baking
∗ 1 large eggplant, about 1 pound
∗ 1/2 cup finely minced onion
∗ 1 cup minced parsley
∗ 1/2 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
∗ 4 tablespoons lemon juice
∗ 2 garlic cloves, minced
∗ 2 teaspoons water
∗ Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
∗ 1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground cumin
∗ Parsley sprigs for garnish

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Line a baking pan with foil or silicone baking sheet and brush with olive oil.

Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise, brush cut sides with olive oil and place them cut-side down on a prepared baking sheet. Bake until the skin is charred and the inside is tender, about 30 to 40 minutes. Let the eggplant cool; peel it and chop finely. Place it in a mixing bowl, add the onion, parsley, tahini and blend well.

In a separate bowl, stir together the lemon juice, garlic and water until well blended.  Stir the lemon mixture into the eggplant mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste with cumin Stir in more lemon juice to taste.  Garnish with parsley.

Makes about 2 1/2 cups.


∗ 1 large eggplant, cut in 1/2-inch thick rounds
∗ 2 cups milk
∗ Flour for dusting
∗ Olive oil for frying
∗ Coarse salt
∗ 1/4 cup fresh rosemary, chopped
∗ 1/2 cup honey

Peel the eggplant and cut 1/2-inch thick slices. Put them in a large shallow baking dish; add enough milk to cover. Let them soak overnight in the refrigerator; drain.

Place flour in a shallow bowl. Dust each eggplant slice with flour and shake to remove excess.

Heat oil in a large frying pan and fry eggplant slices, turning as soon as one side is brown. Drain on paper towels.

To serve, sprinkle eggplant with salt and rosemary. Place on serving plates and drizzle honey on top.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.


∗ 8 to 10 Japanese eggplants
∗ 1 whole head of garlic, separated into cloves and minced
∗ 1 cup olive oil
∗ Salt
∗ Freshly ground black pepper
∗ Fresh Tomato Sauce (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 375 or 400 F.

Wash and dry the eggplants. Starting about 1/2 inch from the stem end, slice the eggplants into fans, cutting lengthwise into 3 or 4 sections, taking care not to cut through the stems.

Combine minced garlic with olive oil in a bowl, reserving 2 tablespoons of oil. Set aside.

Line a baking pan with foil or silicone baking sheet and brush with olive oil. Place the prepared eggplants on the foil, spreading them flat in a fan shape. Spoon the garlic mixture over the eggplants, pushing it between the slices.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until tender.

Spoon tomato sauce on serving plates and place the eggplants on top. Serve at once.

Makes 8 to 10 servings.


∗ 4 ripe tomatoes
∗ 1/2 cup minced fresh basil leaves
∗ 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley
∗ 3 garlic cloves, minced
∗ 1/3 cup olive oil
∗ Salt, to taste
∗ Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
∗ Pinch of sugar

Peel and halve the tomatoes and chop the tomatoes fine. Transfer to a bowl, add the basil, parsley and garlic, and mix until smooth. Add the olive oil in a thin stream and season to taste with salt, pepper and sugar. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.

Makes about 1 1/2 to 2 cups.

Eggplant and Tomato

Baked Japanese Eggplant With Fresh Tomato Sauce


∗ 1 eggplant, unpeeled, about 1 pound
∗ 1/4 cup olive oil plus 2 tablespoons
∗ 2 garlic cloves, minced
∗ 1 teaspoon basil, minced
∗ 1/2 pound red tomatoes, peeled (optional) and chopped
∗ 1/2 cup white wine
∗ 1 tablespoon tomato paste (optional)
∗ 1 teaspoon salt
∗ 1 teaspoon sugar
∗ Freshly ground black pepper

Cut eggplants into 1/2-inch thick slices. Then cut into 1/2-inch wide sticks.

Heat olive oil in large nonstick skillet; add eggplant and sauté 5 to 10 minutes, or until tender, mixing occasionally to avoid sticking. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and sauté garlic, adding basil, tomatoes, wine, tomato paste, salt, sugar and pepper.

Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes. Add eggplant and simmer until sauce is thick, about 5 minutes.

Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot or cold.

Makes about 6 to 8 servings.


∗ 1 large eggplant, about 1 pound
∗ 3 tablespoons olive oil
∗ 1 onion, thinly sliced
∗ 6 garlic cloves
∗ 2 roasted red bell peppers, diced
∗ Pinch of dried chili peppers (optional)
∗ 3 medium size tomatoes, coarsely chopped
∗ 1 quart vegetable stock
∗ Salt and pepper to taste
∗ Sour cream or yogurt for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Line a baking pan with foil or silicone baking sheet and brush with oil. Cut eggplant in half lengthwise, brush with oil; place cut-side down on baking sheet and bake in preheated oven until soft, about 20 to 30 minutes. Peel off skin and discard. Cut eggplant into chunks.

Heat the oil in large saucepan. Add onion and garlic and sauté until soft. Add eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, stock, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer, partially covered, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat; transfer to bowl of food processor or blender and puree. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

To serve, ladle into shallow bowls and garnish with sour cream or yogurt.

Makes 10 to 12 servings.

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