Tag Archives: eggplant

Cambodian Spiced Eggplant

7 Mar

I like to go to dinners organized by a group called Dining for Women. It’s a deceptively simple concept: invite a bunch of women to a potluck and contribute the money you would have spent on a restaurant meal to a nonprofit that helps women and girls in a third-world country.

Well, a dozen or so women in the suburbs or Detroit aren’t going to donate more than a few hundred dollars, but when the dinners are repeated in dozens of locations all over the country, some serious moolah  can be raised. The national organization chooses the recipient nonprofit, and provides a DVD for the dinner hostess showing the work the nonprofit does.

Last month’s dinner featured an organization in Cambodia that helps street children by giving them a place to live and teaching them useful skills so they can earn a living.

I looked for a simple Cambodian vegetarian recipe and found this one. Now the problem with eggplant — I admit it! — is it’s so visually unappealing, at least to me. If that’s your impression of eggplant too, get over it! It’s a delicious vegetable, and this combination of spices is very complementary.

I couldn’t find Asian eggplants so I used a large regular eggplant. And I didn’t have the fresh herbs for sprinkling on top, but the dish was still delectable. It’s also very easy to make, and leftovers reheat nicely.

Ingredients

6 Asian eggplants (small skinny ones) or two small or one large regular eggplant
2 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 Tbs. sugar
1 Tbs. white wine or apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. paprika
2 Tbs. soy sauce
2 Tbs. toasted sesame oil
1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
½ tsp. ground coriander
Fresh coriander and mint to serve

Directions:

Chop the eggplant into pieces about a half-inch square.

Heat the oil in a wok and add the eggplant. Fry over a medium heat for about 4 minutes.

Combine all the other ingredients except the fresh coriander and mint in a small bowl and mix well.

Add the seasonings to the frying eggplant and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the eggplant is softened.

Sprinkle with the chopped fresh herbs.

Serve over hot cooked rice.

Serves 4 – 5

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Eggplant Wraps

30 Jun

eggplant wrapsI clipped this recipe from the Detroit Free Press just a couple of weeks ago. The Freep adapted it from Food: Vegetarian Home Cooking by Mary McCarney. I don’t usually rerun recipes so quickly. To tell the truth I don’t even usually try them so quickly! But I liked this one so much I wanted to share it with you.

It’s a bit of a bother to make, but it would be a great dish to serve to vegetarian guests because it looks so fancy. Eggplant is nice and meaty, so this dish should appeal to carnivores too. Each wrap has only 95 calories, 7 grams of  fat, 5 grams of carbs, 4 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber.

You can assemble the wraps ahead of time and heat them up just before serving. Half the original recipe (the amounts I give below) made eight wraps, so we had them for two meals, and they reheated nicely.

The Free Press suggests using a serrated knife to cut the eggplant.

I will give you the recipe almost as it was in the Freep, except that I’ve halved the amounts — except for the oil. I found I needed at least as much oil as originally called for even though I was making half the recipe. But I’ll also tell you the changes I made and provide a few other suggestions for variations.

I didn’t have any marinated sun-dried tomatoes, only dried ones, so about a half-hour before I started cooking, I covered the dried tomatoes with olive oil to marinate. After I took the tomatoes out, I used the oil (with some added) for the recipe.

For the mixed herbs, I used minced garlic, basil and parsley.

I didn’t have fresh spinach, but my garden was producing lots of chard and kale, so I used a mixture of those.

Most importantly, after I had fried the eggplant slices, some were not really flexible enough to bend into wraps (perhaps I sliced the eggplant a little too thickly?). So I popped them into the microwave in a single layer for 30 seconds and they became perfectly pliable.

Here are some other variations you might want to consider:

  • Use thinly sliced or diced fresh tomato instead of sun-dried. Drain as much juice from them as you can before adding to the wraps.
  • Use goat cheese or feta instead of cheddar.
  • Use slivered almonds instead of pine nuts.
  • Add a few slivered kalamata olives

Ingredients:

Olive oil or cooking spray
1 medium to large eggplant
3 Tbs. sunflower oil or light olive oil (you may need a little more)
1 1/2 to 2 tsp. dried mixed herbs
8 oz. baby spinach
8 sun-dried tomatoes marinated in olive oil, each cut in half or thirds
1 1/2 Tbs. pine nuts, lightly toasted
2 1/2 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, cut into 8 slices
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a sided baking sheet with olive oil spray or use a nonstick baking sheet.

Cut off the top, bottom and rounded sides of the eggplant and discard. Then slice the eggplant lengthwise into 8 pieces, each about 1/4- to 1/3-inch thick. (If you have a very large eggplant, you may have some left over. You don’t want to make the slices too thick.)

In a small bowl, mix together the herbs and oil. Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat.

Working in batches, lightly brush each slice of eggplant on one side with the oil mixture and place in the hot pan. Fry until golden brown on one side, about 3 minutes. Brush the top side lightly with oil and flip to fry that side, another 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside the slices until all are cooked.

(If the slices are brown but still a little stiff, you can microwave them for 20 or 30 seconds until they are pliable.)

Wash the spinach well in cold running water, spin dry and then heat in a large skillet to wilt, using just the water that is clinging to the leaves. Drain off the excess liquid.

Assemble the wraps: Take one slice of cooked eggplant and place a little of the wilted spinach on one half. Then place a few pieces of sun-dried tomato on top, sprinkle with a few toasted pine nuts, and top with a slice of cheddar.

Fold the eggplant over to form the wrap and place on the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining eggplant slices. Sprinkle each with sea salt and fresh black pepper.

Bake for 15 minutes until the cheese has melted and is bubbling. Serve immediately.

Serves 4

 

 

Eggplant Pasta Sauce

21 Oct

eggplant pasta sauce1If you’re of a certain age, you probably have a yellowing copy of Anna Thomas’s book The Vegetarian Epicure on your shelf.

We bought this book, published in 1972, soon after we were married when we were getting away from the old meat-and-potatoes meals and discovering fresh vegetables and all these years later we still enjoy some of the recipes.

This recipe makes a very tasty sauce. It’s easy and it makes a huge amount. You can freeze half of it unless you’re serving a large number of people. It will also keep nicely in the fridge for a couple of weeks.

I’ve altered the recipe a bit, mostly by cutting the original amount of oil and tomato paste by half.

I like to serve it with grated Parmesan cheese, but it’s good without cheese as well.

Ingredients:

½ cup olive oil
2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced or put through a press
1 medium eggplant (about 1 lb.), washed but not peeled and chopped into small dice
2 green, red or yellow bell peppers, seeded and diced
½ to 3/4 cup sliced black olives
3 to 4 Tbs. capers
1 tsp. crushed oregano
½ tsp. crushed basil
salt to taste
lots of freshly ground black pepper
6 oz. tomato paste
2 cups white wine (more if needed)
Grated Parmesan cheese, optional

Directions:

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Add the garlic and heat gently.

Add the peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, olives and capers, and stir well to coat the vegetables with oil.

Add the remaining ingredients, stir again and cover the pot. Lower the heat to a very small flame and allow the sauce to simmer gently for about 1 hour. Stir occasionally to keep it from sticking, and add more wine or water if it gets too thick.

Serve on your choice of hot pasta, topped with shredded Parmesan if you like.

Makes about 2 quarts

Eggplant and Mushroom Polenta Bake

7 Jan

Eggplant Mushroom Polenta 2I love the Internet! I found myself with an aging eggplant and some aging mushrooms that had to be used quickly. So I googled “eggplant mushroom recipe” and found more than a dozen possibilities, including this one, originally posted by Amy Wisniewski on chow.com. It was described as an “Italian take on a vegetarian shepherd’s pie.” It’s a little time-consuming to make because there are a lot of steps, but it’s not difficult, and it’s delicious.

You can easily halve the recipe to serve 3 or 4. If you do that, you can use a smaller skillet, but for the first step, you may want to roast the eggplant on a baking sheet because a smaller skillet may not be big enough to hold the eggplant before it’s cooked. I made half the recipe. I roasted the eggplant in a 10-inch skillet before I realized it would be too large, then used an 8-inch skillet for the rest of the process, and it was perfect.

You can use regular cornmeal, like I did. If you don’t have fontina cheese, substitute Swiss, Monterrey jack or cheddar.

Half the recipe made four good sized servings. There are only two of us so we had leftovers, and it was good reheated too.

Eggplant and Mushroom PolentaIngredients:

3 Tbs. olive oil
1½ lb. Japanese eggplant, cut in large dice (I used a medium-sized regular eggplant for half the recipe)
1 lb. white or cremini mushrooms, trimmed and quartered
⅓ cup dry red wine
Small onion, diced fine
1 tsp. dried oregano
¾ tsp. red pepper flakes (if you like extra zing, use a little more red pepper)
Kosher salt
5 medium cloves garlic, minced
½ cup green olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
1 (14-15 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
1 cup water
Freshly ground black pepper
3 cups water
2 cups milk
2 tsp. kosher salt
1½ cups polenta or coarsely ground cornmeal
½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 1½ oz.)
1½ cups grated fontina cheese (about 5 oz.) (I used Swiss cheese)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place a rack in the middle. Place a large, well-seasoned cast iron or enameled skillet in the oven while it is heating.

When the oven is hot, drizzle 1 Tbs. of oil into the skillet and let it heat for a few minutes. Add the eggplant and arrange in an even layer. Roast until tender and starting to brown, about 25 to 30 minutes, stirring once.

Remove the skillet from the oven to the cooktop. Transfer the eggplant to a large bowl and set aside.

Add 1 Tbs. oil to the skillet and place over high heat for a minute. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are browned, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer the mushrooms to the bowl with the eggplant.

Add the remaining 1 Tbs. oil to the skillet and heat for a minute. Add the onion, oregano and red pepper flakes and season with salt to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and just beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, another minute.

Add the olives, the reserved vegetables (along with any juice in the bowl), the tomatoes and water, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens slightly, about 20 minutes. As the stew cooks, start making the polenta.

Place 3 cups of water and the milk in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce the heat and slowly pour in the polenta or cornmeal while whisking or stirring, until all the polenta is incorporated and there are no lumps.

Cook, stirring frequently, about 15 or 20 minutes, until the polenta pulls out from the sides of the pan and the grains have softened (if it gets too thick before it is soft, add a little hot water, ¼ cup at a time). Stir in the Parmesan cheese.

Heat the oven to broil; keep the rack in the middle.

Pour the polenta over the eggplant and mushroom mixture and spread it into a smooth, even layer. Evenly sprinkle the fontina cheese over the polenta.

Place the skillet in the oven and broil until the cheese is browned and bubbling, about 4 or 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and let it sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Serves 6 to 8

Beef and Eggplant Ragout

17 Jan

ImageI got this recipe from my friend Ruth Marcus and altered it a bit. She called it moussaka, but it’s not like traditional Greek moussaka that is topped with a custard or béchamel sauce and baked. No matter, it’s delicious. I’m calling it Beef and Eggplant Ragout so moussaka lovers won’t be disappointed. The eggplant disappears in the cooking, so it’s a good recipe to serve to kids who like meat and hate veggies. This recipe freezes very well.

Ingredients:

1 medium eggplant, peeled and cubed
2 onions, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 additional bell pepper, any color, diced
2 Tbs. olive oil
1½  lb. ground meat (beef, chicken, or turkey)
14 oz. can diced tomatoes
8 oz. can tomato sauce
Fresh or dried oregano
Fresh or dried parsley
Fresh or dried mint
Salt and pepper

(Ruth didn’t give quantities for spices. I use about 1 Tbs. dried oregano, 2 Tbs. dried parsley and 1 tsp. dried mint. If you use kosher meat, you probably won’t need additional salt, but a few grinds of black pepper – maybe about ½ tsp. – is very nice.)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and bake the eggplant until it starts to soften, about 15-20 minutes.

Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven and sauté the onions and peppers a few minutes, then add the eggplant and cook until the vegetables are soft. Add the meat, stirring to break up clumps, until browned. Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce and spices. Simmer one hour on low heat.

Serve with rice or couscous. It’s also nice served over spaghetti.

Serves 6