The Man of Science had to stay at work until almost midnight last night so when I returned from my travels in the west, I was on my own for dinner. It has been raining here for days, which is a bummer, and it left me wanting something rich and comforting. I bought an eggplant last week thinking we could grill it but that never happened. I'm no fan of a barbecue in the rain.
I don't cook with eggplant much, but I love to eat it. Especially when it's cooked really well in Indian or Italian dishes. The problem is, if it's cooked badly it tastes like total ass. It was my goal to make a relatively easy eggplant dish with low probability of ass-tasty-ness.
Vegan Eggplant Stew
Part One: Eggplant
1 medium sized eggplant, peeled and cubed
1 tbsp salt
3 tbsp olive oil
See those photos above? The one of the eggplant cubes in the colander and the dirty water on the plate? You need to do this to your eggplant. Cut it up into a bunch of cubes, put it all in a colander, toss it with salt, and set the colander aside on a plate. Leave it there while you prep the rest of the ingredients. When you go back to it, there should be a puddle of yucky water on your plate. This is a good thing. That puddle is the Eggplant Bitterness and you must wash it down the sink. The Bitterness is part one of why eggplant can potentially taste bad.
The second part of the eggplant's yuckiness, comes from the fact that it needs to cook longer than most other vegetables. I solve this problem by pan frying it in a bit of olive oil over medium heat for a few minutes. The eggplant pieces will darken and go a little mushy. This gets them closer to being cooked at the same time as everything else.
Part Two: The Rest of It
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1 can diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cups black-eyed peas
2 tsp basil
2 tsp oregano
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp sugar or maple syrup
salt and pepper to taste
Saute onion and garlic in olive oil over medium high heat until onion pieces are tender. Then add the fried eggplant pieces. Saute for two more minutes.
Stir in the remainder of the ingredients and reduce the heat to medium. Cover, and let simmer for five to ten minutes. When the eggplant pretty much melts in your mouth, you know it's ready.
-Someone once taught me that the key to choosing a good eggplant is to slap it gently and listen to the sound it makes. It should make a sound similar to the sound you make when you gently slap the inside of your wrist. I'm not sure if there's any science behind this technique, but it has yet to steer me wrong.
-I ate this over a bed of quinoa which was delicious, but rice would work too. And the leftovers make an excellent next-day lunch.
-I just got my copy of Vegan Brunch! This is unrelated to this highly un-brunchy recipe, but I am so excited I had to tell the world! Lots of great Saturday meals in our future!