Tag Archives: eggplant

Recipe: Ratatouille for a ratty week

Taking a break from the travel diaries to write down a recipe that has been a bit of a lifesaver for me this year.  It tastes like comfort food, it’s full of vegetables, it creates copious leftovers, and it takes maybe ten minutes of preparation time.  Probably less, really.  And because the vegetables are all soft, I can even make it when my wrist is acting up and doesn’t want me to chop things. 

You can serve it with all sorts of things, really.  It goes with bread and hummus (or you can fling some chickpeas in to bake with the rest of the ratatouille), or grilled haloumi (which you can also chop into chunks and throw in to bake for the last ten minutes); with roasted or boiled potatoes and felafel or grilled fish or chicken; it’s great over giant couscous (again, with chickpeas), or stirred through pasta, or even made into a bake with bocconcini and more pasta. 

You can serve it hot, or warm, or at room temperature.  Tonight, I’ll be serving it hot with some little pies from Zaatar – lamb, and haloumi, and spinach.  And probably with some roast potatoes because everything is better with roast potatoes, especially when you are eating super late because it took nearly two hours to get home from work and your husband hasn’t even managed to leave work yet and it’s nearly 9pm…

This is not as fancy as my other ratatouille recipe, but it tastes very nearly as good and takes far less time.  It’s Friday night-worthy, which is really saying something, especially after a fortnight like the one I’ve had, with lots of stress and very little sleep.  (Though one of my scientists did bring me cake to cheer me up, which was possibly the nicest thing anyone has done for me ever.)

Oh, and it doesn’t create a lot of washing up, either.  Just one giant baking dish.  There’s really nothing not to like, unless you are entirely anti-vegetable.

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3 large capsicums, preferably in different colours
2 red onions
2 medium zucchini
1 largeish eggplant
olive oil
lavender salt
black pepper
rosemary
dried mint
400g cherry tomatoes
500ml – 750 ml (whatever size bottle you have) tomato passata
dried basil

(I know these amounts are very vague.  It really is a sprinkle of this and a sprinkle of that, and it is very much to taste.  If you don’t have lavender salt, a pinch of salt with some culinary lavender is good, or skip the lavender and add a little fennel, and rather more rosemary.  It will be fine.)

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Recipe: Eggplant Tarts

My brother and I have an annual tradition for Christmas, where his gift to me is a ticket to one day of the Boxing Day test, and mine to him is a picnic lunch for my brother and sister-in-law and their guests at the cricket that day.  It’s a pretty good deal all round, except for the fact that my entry into the MCG seems to be the cue for everyone to forget how to bat properly – I’ve watched four batting collapses in four days of cricket over the last three years.  But this year, I was in luck, and got to spend a fabulous day yesterday watching India play test cricket as though they were playing a one day match, and the batting was spectacular (the less said about Australia’s fielding, the better.  Let’s just say that the batsmen spent most of the day throwing caution to the wind and hitting fours all over the place with impunity.  I loved it.).

I always over-cater, and never more so than this year, especially because my mother inexplicably decided to bring lunch for her and dad.  Apparently, it didn’t occur to my mother that I would be catering for them as well.  Anyone would think she had never met me…

Anyway, I made a big beetroot and carrot salad, and planned to make spiced roast pumpkin pasties, only I was really tired when making the pastry and quadrupled the flour when I meant to double it… and of course once I figured that out, I had to add more of everything else and had way too much pastry, so I decided to throw together some eggplant tarts as well.  Naturally, these turned out to be the hit of the day, which is a bit of a pest, since I hadn’t written down anything I’d done.  Or taken any photos, which is why these ones are so bad.

So this is my attempt to reconstruct said tarts, because they really were tasty, and I’d like to make them again sometime.

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90 ml olive oil
90 ml cold water
380 g flour (3 cups)
1 tsp herbed salt – I used the Garlic Lovers Spice from Gewürzhaus
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 egg + 1 egg yolk

olive oil
lavender salt
2 cloves garlic
2 medium eggplants
1/4 cup white wine
2 roasted peppers, sliced
1 x 180 g container Persian Feta, drained
a large handful of mint leaves, finely chopped

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Recipe: Eggplant with Tomatoes and Yoghurt

yogurtThis recipe is inspired by our local Turkish restaurants, which we don’t go to nearly often enough, actually.  They all have some variation of eggplant ‘yogurtlu’, eggplant that has been fried in oil until it is sweet and caramelised, and then cooked into a yoghurt sauce.  Or something like that – I can deduce the ingredients, but I’m not 100% sure of the method.  It’s amazing stuff – juicy and tangy and sweet and addictive – possibly the best ever use for eggplants.

Anyway, there were really beautiful eggplants at the shops yesterday, and we had guests round to dinner, so I thought I’d try giving it a shot.  My version of eggplant yogurtlu was a great hit, with the one problem being that I have hardly any leftovers.  We had it with youvetsi, a Greek lamb and tomato stew, because one of our guests doesn’t really eat vegetables unless you disguise them really well, or unless they are potatoes.  But it would also be fabulous as a meal in its own right, just served with really good Turkish or Lebanese bread, or, of course, as part of a mezze platter.

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2 large eggplants (about 750 g)
salt
quite a lot more olive oil than most people would recommend, but really, it’s wonderful and you need it.
6 roma tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic, crushed

400 g tinned tomatoes

salt, pepper, fennel, chilli, lavender
250 ml Greek yoghurt (incidentally, if you have access to Black Swan low fat Greek Yoghurt, I recommend it with enthusiasm)
small bunch mint leaves

 

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Recipe: Extremely Good Ratatouille

Ratatouille is one of those things that can be really good or really bland, I find.  I got it right this time, so I’m writing down what I did before I forget.  Also, I have to mention just in passing that I got part of my method from a character in a novel by Elizabeth Bear, who cooks a batch of ratatouille with great care as an act of kitchen magic.  I figured that if the method worked so well that you can do spells with this dish, it might also work to get flavour into it.  And it did.

Although the recipe looks long, I think it took me about 45 minutes from start to finish, including the time for the eggplants to release their juices.  So it isn’t too time consuming, I promise.

Also, I am being very vague about amounts of things like oil and spices and herbs.  This is partly because I think that flavours of these kinds are very much a matter of taste, and partly because I know some people prefer olive oil spray etc, but mostly (I cannot tell a lie) because I actually have no idea how much I used.  I suspect it was a good teaspoon or so of the lavender salt, a couple of pinches of the fennel, chilli, salt and pepper mix, and half a teaspoon or so of the mint, but don’t quote me on that.  I probably used about 4 – 6 tablespoons of olive oil, but it could have been less – I tend to just go once around the pan whenever it needs it, and don’t keep track.

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Olive oil.  Quite a bit, really.
Two big, lovely eggplants
6 cloves of garlic
French lavender salt (this is a combination of salt, coriander, aniseed, lavender, fennel, pepper, chilli, garlic and ginger, apparently.  It tastes like salt with lavender and tarragon, but use a suitable combination of these herbs and spices, with emphasis on the lavender)
1/3 cup white wine
3 long, red sweet peppers (Australian supermarkets would call them sweet chillis, but they really have no heat to speak of – I think they are also called Italian Frying Peppers)
2 capsicums, preferably one yellow and one orange
salt, pepper, dried chilli and fennel (I have these in a grinder)
4 small-medium zucchinis, any colour or a mix of colours (which reminds me, I must go out and deal with the Marrow Revolution today)
dried mint, white pepper (black is also fine)
5 large tomatoes
500 ml passata with basil, or just passata and add some basil separately, or use a good quality tomato and basil pasta sauce
200 g green or yellow beans

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Recipe: Not Really Moussaka

It tastes much better than it looks…

So I had this idea about making vegetarian moussaka with some of the leftovers and veggies I had in the house.  And I looked at the Delia vegetarian moussaka, and liked the look of it, so I thought I’d give it a try.  But then I couldn’t leave it alone, because I realised she was doing it wrong (moussaka has to have layers or it doesn’t count, at least in my book).  And then I had to send Andrew out for Emergency Potatoes.  And then it would barely fit in my casserole dish even when I pressed it down really hard, so I couldn’t give it as much custard as it deserved (and a sane person wouldn’t have given it any).  And then I realised that I actually had a casserole dish which it would have fitted, only now it’s way too late because it’s all in the oven.  Also, it’s 8pm on a weeknight and I’ve only just got this in the oven, possibly because I only started cooking at nearly 7pm and then I fiddled around being indecisive about the recipe and not multitasking.

It’s going to taste fantastic, you know, but I really could have done it better.  Much better.  This quantity looks like it will feed about 6-8 people, depending on how hungry they are and whether they are having bread and salad on the side, and also depending what’s for dessert, because you have to leave room for dessert, you know.  Even when it’s chocolate pudding from a box.  Which it might possibly be, but I’m allowed to do that, because it will also be with fresh strawberries and stewed rhubarb and icecream, which makes it Healthy.  Well, maybe not the ice-cream, though, you know, calcium is good for humans, and anyway, who needs to worry about healthy when you’ve just eaten a main that is packed full of vegetables and lentils?  Not you.  Not me, either.

OK, maybe I should just get on with the recipe.

Your shopping list

2 eggplants
olive oil
salt, pepper
75 g puy lentils
75 g green lentils (or use 150 g of either puy or green)
375 ml vegetable stock (from a box, or make your own)
400g tinned tomatoes, or leftover quick tomato sauce
1 tsp cinnamon
200ml red wine
2 tbsp tomato paste
600 g potatoes, thickly sliced
2 brown onions, chopped fairly finely
2 capsicums (one red and one green, ideally), chopped
6 cloves of garlic, crushed (or to taste.  I am a garlic fiend, and six cloves is positively moderate in my book)
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried mint
500g yoghurt
2 tbsp flour
2 eggs
200 g feta
50 g parmesan

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Leftovers for Lunch: Roasted Vegetable and Chickpea Salad

I love roast vegetables.  About once a fortnight, I will do a huge roast vegetable fest – one enormous tray of potatoes, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, carrots, onions and beetroot, cut into chunks and the potato and beetroot parboiled, and then roasted with olive oil, garlic, rosemary and salt.  Another huge tray will have capsicums, halved or quartered roma tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant and red onion, with oregano, black pepper, a bit of brown sugar,  balsamic vinegar and olive oil.  Mostly, I chuck in some organic sausages to roast with this, but sometimes I’ll serve it with broccoli in cheese sauce, or with chickpeas or a cannelini bean puree, or even a roast chicken.  Continue reading