Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Eggplant "ratatouille"

This isn't really ratatouille at all; the list of ingredients is way too schizophrenic for that. But it is totally eggplant season and getting to be tomato season, as proven when Betsy brought two of these lovely guys over and a half pint of lovely plum tomatoes. So if you are tired of grilling your purple friends, try making this instead. The final consistency should not be as loose as a sauce yet the eggplant pieces should somewhat be falling apart into a delicious jam.

Slice 2 small farmers market eggplants into halves then dice the halves up into equal size chunks of about 1" square. Saute the eggplant chunks in 3 tablespoons olive oil heated in a large pan over medium-high. Meanwhile, mince 2 cloves of garlic and one small onion and add them to the pan. Clear a small space in the center of the pan and add the following spices, allowing them some time to heat in the oil so the flavors bloom: salt, 1 pinch red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon good curry powder, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, and 1 teaspoon chili powder. Continue to saute until all the vegetables are soft and the onion lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire, 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes--I used fresh farmers market plum tomatoes but canned chopped are fine too--and 1 big teaspoon tomato paste. Mix it all up well and add a drizzle of white wine, the turn down the heat and let it bubble together for about 15 minutes. Check on it and see if you like the flavor--does it need a bit more wine or salt or maybe some more tomatoes? If you like it, take it off heat, stir in 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar and serve it over couscous or dry-cooked orzo. Sliced mushrooms would be a delicious addition, included in at the same time as the eggplant. Another variation (without the mushrooms) would be a handful of golden raisins and some capers stirred in during the last 5 minutes of cooking.

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