Jane’s way: get busy with eggplant

The Cookery welcomes our trusted vegetarian guide Jane Manaster back with this guest post of fresh ideas on eggplant. Thanks, Jane, and help us get busy.

Jane: How to cope with 50 pounds of eggplant? Although happily not my problem, the bounty was a goodly portion of our community gardens’ harvest and destined for the needy. I mused on how I would fare if landed with such a yield.

Eggplant is not universally popular, especially with children, although since the bitterness has been bred out of the vegetable they are better tolerated. Eggplant sandwich is a restaurant standby for vegetarians. It’s transformed with the addition of smoky flavor or grilled over coals. Here are two vegan eggplant favorites.

My adapted, speedier version of a stew comes from inspiration from the incomparable Sunset Book of International Vegetarian Cooking.

EGGPLANT STEW

Ingredients

1 large chopped onion
6 tbs olive oil
2-3 cloves chopped garlic
1 stick celery
1 sliced carrot
¼ c. parsley
12 oz. packet lentils
4 c. vegetable stock (cubes work fine)
l unpeeled eggplant, cut in ½ – 1 inch  cubes
¼ tsp cinnamon
1-2 tsp dried basil and/or oregano
Salt/pepper to taste

Sauté onion until soft in 2 tbs oil. Add everything except the eggplant. Cook over a low heat.

Sauté eggplant in remaining oil until slightly softened, then add to other ingredients. Continue to cook slowly, until all is soft and well blended. This takes about an hour. Stir every now and then and add more water if the stew starts to stick.

Serve with rice, couscous or crusty bread. Non-vegans can sprinkle with shredded cheese.

This freezes very well.

STUFFED VEGETABLES

Here’s a wholly flexible entrée. Bake together stuffed peppers and tomatoes alongside the stuffed eggplants so the fussy folk can choose their favorite.

Ingredients

2-3 cups cooked rice or soaked bulgur per 4-6 vegetables.
1 chopped onion
3 tbs oil
2 cloves chopped or minced garlic
1 15 oz. can whole or diced tomatoes
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
¾ c. chopped walnuts
1 handful chopped parsley
1 tbs dried oregano and/or basil
Salt/pepper to taste

Heat oven to 375. Cut in half the eggplant and peppers, and take tops off tomatoes. Eviscerate and chop all you have removed.

Sauté onion and garlic. Add the chopped part of the vegetables. Cook, stirring, until blended. Add the rice or soaked bulgur, the tomatoes, and the tomato paste (diluted already with three 6 oz. cans of water). Add the walnuts and parsley and herbs. Season and taste (only once or twice–don’t keep sampling until there’s not enough left!).

Place the mix in the vegetables in a baking dish, cover with foil, and bake until soft, 45-60 minutes. Serve with extra rice or couscous.

© 2012 Jane Manaster. All Rights Reserved.

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