I recently learned that eggplants were part of the nightshade family. And of course I think of Harry Potter and the Deadly Nightshade plants and decided to do a little more digging on these delicious purple blubs. Apparently eggplants are closely related to tomatoes and potatoes and are native to India. And come in many other colors than the shades of purple we’re used to. There are orange eggplants out in the world people. Who’d have thunk it?! And why can’t I find an orange one?
Here's a yellow one though!
So here is this crazy fruit, because I learned in my research that it is in fact a fruit, that comes in all of these insanely different shapes, sizes and colors (I’ve eaten white eggplant…much milder than it’s purple brother) and when it’s raw, it tastes HORRIBLE. It’s bitter, it’s kind of mealy. It makes you wonder who decided that it would be a good idea to cook it, because honestly after eating a piece raw no one would ever want to touch it again. But some genius or fool (they’re really so close) decided to cook it. And that’s when the magic happened. This nasty raw blob turns into a deliciously rich cooked food.
So, why all of the eggplant background? Honestly, I just thought it was really interesting. Besides, DEADLY NIGHTSHADE is a really awesome name for a post about food. But you’re not here for a lesson, you’re here to eat. So let me share with you what I like to do with eggplant during the summer months….a double decker quesadilla!
A few years ago I stumbled across a Bobbly Flay recipe for Southwestern Quesadillas that had eggplant, red onions and chicken. The recipe as it was looked delicious, but of course, since I can’t just follow anything word for word, I decided to take his Quesadillas and make them my own. We had them for dinner last night and when my husband walked into the kitchen, he nearly fell over with excitement. They take a bit of time, but you have more than enough left -overs for two lunches and you get your daily serving of vegetables and deadly nightshade for the day.
1 Eggplant, quartered and cut into ½ inch pieces
1 Red Onion, Diced
2TBS Chopped Cilantro
1 Jalapeno, Diced
2 Chicken Breasts Cut into 1 inch cubes
2 TBS Lime Juice
1 TSP Balsamic Vinegar
2+ cups of Shredded Cheese (whatever you like to put on your tacos…Colby Jack, a blend)
6-8 Large Flour Tortilla
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive Oil to coat the pan
Place the cut eggplant in a colander and add salt, let it weep for an hour. There should be a small amount of a brown liquid at the base of the colander. Once the eggplant has wept, warm olive oil in a skillet and add the eggplant. Cook until the eggplant has softened and become a dark golden color. Make sure to stir often, as the eggplant can easily stick to the pan.
When you are finished, remove the eggplant and place in a large bowl. Return the pan to the stove, add more olive oil as well as the red onions and chopped cilantro. Cook until Onions are soft, around 5 minutes. Add salt and balsamic vinegar. Cook another 3 minutes and add onion mixture to the eggplant.
Finally, add olive oil, lime and jalapeno. Cook together while cleaning the bottom of the pot for about 1 minute. Add the chicken and cook until chicken is finished. Add the chicken into the red onion and eggplant and mix.
Turn the oven onto 450 or turn your grill onto high. Place down one tortilla, cover with cheese and chicken mixture, put another tortilla on top of that, cover will cheese and chicken mixture and top with a final tortilla. Press down, so that the top won’t fall off. Continue to do this until you have finished the chicken mixture. Depending on the size of the tortillas and how full I make them, I can generally get two double decker’s and one regular one. Place in the oven or grill (preferably on a cookie sheet) and cook for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the tops are getting hard and a little golden.
Take out of the oven, cut each into 4 pieces and serve alongside guacamole and sour cream.