Sunday, September 19, 2010

Learning to Love Eggplant

So.. I admit it.. this blog post title is really a function of my day job as a marketer.. I wanted something "catchy" to hook readers ... because the truth is, that actually there are very few foods I don't like..

And I've never actually disliked eggplant, it's just that now as a vegetarian I find myself looking for more ways to use it, just I do with all veggies. And it turns out, that similar to Portabello mushrooms, eggplant can be prepared in a variety of very satisfying ways.

My favorite way to prepare eggplant is my own take on a classic Ratatouille - not only is it a flavor explosion (Thanks Peter, I'm going to keep using that phrase whenever I get the chance!) it's a great way to avoid using a lot cheese and breading and additional oils that many traditional eggplant dishes feature - especially Italian recipes.

The recipe is not only healthy and delicious - it's a piece of cake to make - and its extremely easy to customize to what you have on hand, and the flavors that you prefer. Here's the recipe - try it with any combination of late summer vegetables all over the place right now..  You can also omit the cumin and coriander and go more authentic by using the traditional Herbs de Provence that traditional Ratatouille is made with.

My Slightly Middle Eastern Influenced Ratatouille (Eggplant and Tomato Stew)
Total time needed: 30 mins

Makes: 4 servings


1 large eggplant ( I usually don't peel it, but that's your call)
canola oil spray
½ cup finely diced onion
½ cup finely diced red bell pepper
½ cup finely chopped zucchini or spinach
1/4 cup sherry vinegar or Vermouth
1 ½ cups peeled and diced tomatoes
½ cup chickpeas or white beans
1 tablespoon cumin
½ tsp curry powder
½ tbs sugar
½ tablespoon whole coriander seed, toasted and ground
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro or parsley


1. Wash the eggplant and cut it in half lengthwise. Then simply dice it into 1" cubes.
2.Spray a large saute pan with oil spray (like Pam) and set the burner to medium-high heat. Cook a third of the eggplant in the oil until golden brown. Repeat with the remaining eggplant in two more batches, using more oil for each batch.
3. After all the eggplant is cooked, place it on a plate and set aside. Add the onion and red pepper to the pan, and cook over medium heat until soft and caramelized, about 5 minutes.
4. Add the zucchini (or spinach, any green veggie you like, etc.) and cook until just turning soft about 5 minutes or less.
5. Add the sherry vinegar or Vermouth to the pan, scraping up any of the browned bits that have adhered to the bottom.
6. Cook until the vinegar/Vermouth has evaporated, then add the tomatoes and the chickpeas or white beans.
7. Cook mixture over low heat until it is thick and saucy. Add the cumin, coriander, curry powder and sugar then return the eggplant to the pan and continue cooking on low heat for about 10 minutes. Season with a little salt and freshly ground black pepper, and stir in the cilantro or parsley.

Serve this as is, or over rice (basmati would be perfect) ...wouldn't this be great on a Sunday afternoon while watching some sports?

Have any good fall inspired recipes of your own? Share!! I'm hungry and always looking for new dishes to try..

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