Tag Archives: Eggplant

Ratatouille

Ratatouille

Ratatouille

Are you swimming in vegetables yet?  If you belong to a CSA and/or make a hobby out of frequenting your local farmer’s market, I imagine you are feeling a little like we are.  Sometimes I fear that I won’t be able to use all my vegetables fast enough before the next batch arrives.  It certainly doesn’t help that I approach buying vegetables like I do buying shoes.  I know that I have a bunch of stuff at home that I should eat but I just can’t resist a ripe melon or a basket of technicolor cherry tomatoes.

Zucchini and Eggplant

Zucchini and Eggplant

That is where Ratatouille comes in.  This recipe is one of the best ways to use up all those veggies you have in the fridge (psst, you can even use the ones that are slightly past their peak of freshness).  The vegetables are cooked with olive oil, aromatic herbs, and a splash of vinegar and somehow, this transforms a dish that is mostly zucchini and eggplant into something that is silky, rich, and deeply satisfying.

Onions and Peppers

Onions and Peppers

If you have lots of veggies, you can easily double this recipe (which is what I did) and make enough to feed an army.  It keeps well in the fridge and reheats nicely for leftover.

Tomatoes and Herbs

Tomatoes and Herbs

Ratatouille

Adapted from The Joy of Cooking

Ingredients:

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium eggplant (about 1 lb), peeled and cut into 1″ cubes

1 lb zucchini, cut into 1″ cubes

1 large onion, sliced

1 small bell pepper, cut into 1″ squares (we threw some left over hot pepper in there too… feel free to do the same if you like a little heat)

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes

1 4-inch sprig of rosemary

1 bay leaf

1/4 cup basil

2 tbls red wine vinegar

salt and pepper to taste

To Make:

Using a large skillet that has a cover, saute the eggplant and zucchini over high heat in 1/4 cup olive oil until just tender, about 10-12 minutes.  Remove the eggplant and zucchini and set aside.  Reduce the heat to medium-high, add the two tablespoons of olive oil and the onions. Cook until the onions are slightly softened.  Add in the bell pepper and garlic and continue to cook until just tender, another 8-12 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add in the tomatoes, the garlic, rosemary, and bay leaf.  Season with salt and pepper.

Cover the pan, reduce the heat to low and let it ride for 5 minutes.  Add back in the previously cooked eggplant and zucchini.  This time, let it all cook over low heat until it’s really tender, about 20 minutes.  To finish, stir in the fresh basil and red wine vinegar.

To Serve:

Ratatouille makes a delicious main dish, a side dish, or light lunch.  It can be served warm or room temperature.  Serves 6-8 as a side dish.

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Filed under Dairy-free, Dinner, Gluten-Free, Recipes, Side Dish, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Baba Ganoush

Baba Ganoush

Baba Ganoush

I bet you all think today is a special occasion, with back-to-back blog posts happening.  Well, it is eggplant time in these parts, which is definitely cause for a little celebration.  When the eggplants start rolling in it means I get to make (and eat) one of my all-time favorite dips, baba ganoush.  Up until a couple of years ago, I didn’t even like eggplant.  Whenever I had it I found it to be either tasteless or bitter.  So I pretty much kept away, frequently using the “no thanks, I really don’t care for eggplant” deflection whenever it was offered.  But then we joined our CSA and I suddenly had a lot of eggplant in my possession.

Eggplants ready for grilling

Eggplants ready for grilling

Since Marc lives to smoke things, we decided to break out the smoker and try our hand at baba ganoush.  I figured that I liked hummus, so maybe I would enjoy this Middle Eastern dip too.  After I had my first taste, I was in love.  Fast forward three years… this recipe for baba ganoush is on the menu every summer.  Even the kids like it.  When Thing 1 was a baby, she used to call it “gaba noush”.

Eggplants, transformed by smoke and heat

Eggplants, transformed by smoke and heat

The key to truly good baba ganoush is smoking the eggplant.  You can make this recipe by roasting the eggplant in a 400 degree oven but it won’t have the same smokey, slightly sour flavor that wood chips impart.  Luckily, it is easy to create a “smoker” using your gas or charcoal grill.  Get some smoking chips (they are easy to find at big box stores or your local hardware store) and soak them in water for at least an hour (you can leave them overnight if you want).  Make a packet with the chips in the center using heavy duty aluminum foil, poke a few holes in it so the smoke can get out, and toss it directly on the charcoal or flames.  Voila, your very own smoker, easy as pie.  Just make sure you close the lid while you cook so all the smoke doesn’t escape.

Almost ready

Almost ready

Baba Ganoush

Adapted from Joy of Cooking

Ingredients:

~2.5 lbs eggplants (any color will do)

1 large clove of garlic, chopped

juice of one large lemon

1 1/2 tbls tahini (this is sesame paste and can be found in the ethnic section of most grocery stores)

1 tsp salt

To Make:

Soak smoking chips in bucket of water for at least one hour prior to grilling the eggplant.  Heat your gas grill to 400F or a charcoal grill to medium-hot.  Put wet wood chips in a packet made from aluminum foil with holes poked in it and lay the packet directly on the flame tamers (or the coals).  Pierce the eggplants all over, place on the grill, and close the lid.  Let the eggplant roast until is it soft all over and the skin is nicely charred, about 45 minutes. Make sure to keep half an eye on your eggplant.  Depending on the size, yours may cook slower or faster than ours did.

When the eggplant is soft, remove it from the grill and allow it to cool until it can be handled.  Cut the eggplants in half and scrape the flesh into a colander, allowing any excess liquid to drain.  Discard the skins.  Put the eggplant flesh into a food process along with the garlic, lemon juice, tahini, and salt.  Process until smooth.  Taste and adjust the seasonings as necessary.

To Serve:

Right before serving, drizzle with good quality extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle lightly with coarse salt.  There are endless ways to serve this dip.  I like it spread on warm pita breads, on pita breads that have been baked until they are crisp, as a dip for fresh or roasted veggies (especially tomatoes), dolloped on a grilled lamb chop, etc.  Makes about 2 cups.

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Filed under Appetizers, Dairy-free, Gluten-Free, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Karniyarik (Stuffed Eggplant)

Turkish Stuffed Eggplant

Turkish Stuffed Eggplant

Karniyarik is a Turkish recipe.  When I saw it in the May, 2009 issue of Saveur, I knew that it was a “must make” as soon as eggplants were in season.  After frittering away the last few weeks of eggplants making things like Baba Ganoush, roasted eggplant, and the aforementioned Gnocchi with Eggplant and Arugula, I knew that the time for this recipe had come. 

Unfortunately, we did not get any ground lamb in this month’s meat CSA so we decided to substitute ground beef.  It was still delicious, though I suspect the ground lamb would have been even better.  The finished dish is pretty showy and would make a great dish for company.  Even better, most of it can be done ahead so that the actual pre-dinner party prep time is short. 

I stuck mostly to the recipe.  The only major changes were substituting ground beef for lamb and roasting, rather than frying, the eggplants.  The original recipe called for Japanese eggplants that were fried in some oil to soften.  I used the classic purple eggplant and roasted it in the oven.  It worked beautifly and Marc didn’t have to wash out a saute pan filled with oil.  I also cut back on the butter and used a sweet red pepper rather than a more bitter green one.  The coolest thing about this recipe is that everything we put in it was locally grown / produced.  I love when I can find recipes that utilize all the wonderful seasonal foods we have on hand.  I would definitely make this one again.  Next time, we might smoke the eggplants to add even more flavor.

Karniyarik (Stuffed Eggplant)

Slightly modified from Saveur, May 2009

Ingredients

2 lbs of eggplant (two, 1 lb purple eggplants would make a nice dish for four people)

2 tbls butter

1 lb ground beef or ground lamb

1 tbls tomato paste

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

6 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced

1 small yellow onion, finely chopped

1/2 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and finely chopped

2 medium tomatoes, core and seeds removed, finely chopped

1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsely

1/4 cup chopped mint leaves

salt and pepper to taste

To make

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Cut the tops off the eggplants and poke holes in them.  Roast the eggplants on a cookie sheet, turning occasionally, until tender.  About 1 hour.  Remove from oven and set aside.

In a 12-inch skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat.  Add the ground meat and cook, using a wooden spoon to break it into small pieces, until it is browned, about 8 minutes.  Add the tomato paste, cinnamon, garlic, onions, and peppers and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are soft and golden brown, about 8 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and cook until they are soft, about 6 minutes.  Stir in the parsley and mint and season with salt and pepper.  Remove the skillet from the heat and set aside.

Heat over to 475 degrees.  Halve each eggplant lengthwise.  In each piece, cut a lengthwise, 1/4 inch deep incision in the eggplant, being careful not to cut all the way through.  Spread the eggplant open and lightly season each pocket with salt and pepper.  Spoon about 1/4 of the meat mixture into each pocket, pressing it in lightly and mounding it as needed.  Arrange the stuffed eggplants in a baking dish and bake until hot, about 5 minutes.

To serve

Serve warm.  Serves four as a main dish.

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Filed under Dairy-free, Dinner, Meat, Recipes, Vegetables