Monday, February 16, 2009

What To Do with a Gazillion Eggplants

In our neighborhood we have a produce market called, aptly, Produce Junction. It's a great place to buy fresh veggies and fruits. Only trouble is where you might want to buy oh, 3 tomatoes, you're actually expected (required) to buy a few pounds. It's cheaper, but it requires some pre-planning so there's no waste.

Alas, there was no pre-planning involved last week when he stopped by after work and came home with a bag of 24-30 baby eggplants. My first thought was "Great!" because it's tough to find baby eggplants. Then I saw the bag. Oops. Now what?

Here's what - ratatouille and eggplant soup. Mind you, ratatouille is going to be an easier sell with the kids thanks to the movie, but even my husband curled up a lip at the thought of eggplant soup. But he went for seconds. And thirds. It was a hit.

Ratatouille
1 eggplant (or 12 baby eggplants if your husband brings home a huge bag), sliced thin
1 small onion, sliced very thin
1 green pepper, sliced thin and chopped to about 1 inch
3 Roma tomatoes, sliced thin (I use Roma because they're meatier)
1 Tbls. thyme
2 Tbls. dried basil (I used what came from our garden - make sure it's really aromatic)
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put sliced eggplant in colander. Salt and let stand for about 30 minutes. This releases some bitterness (if any) and a fair amount of excess liquid. Rinse thoroughly and pat dry on paper towels.

In a square casserole (8x8), spray a small amount of cooking spray, then put a thin layer of onion. Top with eggplant. Top that with pepper, tomato, and then sprinkle on basil and thyme, salt and pepper. Repeat until you're out of veggies. Make sure to end with tomatoes and then the spices.

Drizzle the oil on top (don't drench) and bake, uncovered, for an hour. Make sure to check on it occasionally and press down on the top once in a while to compact the veggies. Serve hot. This goes great with veggie dogs or lentil meatloaf.

Eggplant Soup
1 eggplant (or 8-10 baby eggplants)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 green pepper, chopped
1 Tbl. olive oil
4 cups vegetable broth
salt and pepper (I used white pepper, but black pepper works, too)
1 large roasted red pepper (from a jar - or about 3 Tbls)
1 tsp. sugar

Pierce eggplant skin a few times. Under broiler, bake eggplant for 20 minutes. Cool. Scoop out eggplant pulp and chop (if using larger eggplant).

Meanwhile, heat oil in large saucepan. Saute onion and green pepper until soft. Add eggplant and broth. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Blend soup in blender until smooth. Add salt and pepper, roasted red pepper and sugar.

2 comments:

MoneyEnergy said...

that sounds good... I'm a big vegetarian myself and love gourmet vegetarian food... and spinach is amazing when steamed with garlic and spices.

Lori said...

I agree! Spinach is so good. We had it on pizza last night. :)