Big week. I have an appointment to tell my boss the news on Tuesday, provided I'm still pregnant, and once that cat is out of the bag, it's fair game to broadcast. This is probably a good thing, since now my baby bump is unmistakeable.
In the meantime, I'm still cooking like a madwoman, trying to figure out how I'm going to eat this week's CSA share with only a preschooler to help me. (Anyone want to come for dinner? ICLW folks? Anyone?)
Despite my reliance on the internet for inspiration, I have a long list of cookbooks that I keep meaning to borrow from the library. Luckily, the other day S. picked one up for me ... just in time for me to find an answer to the problem of the CSA boxed share eggplants.
S. is not a huge eggplant fan. I understand; it's sort of a strange vegetable. Tough if undercooked, mushy and slimy if overcooked, potentially bitter. I do like eggplant, though, particularly in Mediterranean dips and spreads, and Indian food, especially baingan bharta. Baingan bharta is technically supposed to be smoked eggplant; in Punjab, you might see people put the eggplant whole into the hot ashes of an outdoor stove, where it will char and blacken on the outside. Then, the eggplant is peeled and cooked with spices. Roasted eggplant is light and easily digestible. Though it's more of a winter dish (because it "increases temperament,") this is also another one of those recipes that can be served cold, for hot summer days.
When it comes to cooking Indian food, Madhur Jaffrey is pretty much my go-to guru (no pun intended). The book S. found is actually called World Vegetarian, though; it's a mix of cultures, emphasis on Middle Eastern/ Mediterranean/ South Asian foods. I mostly followed her recipe, but threw in a little garam masala and lemon juice. I was pleasantly surprised by how authentic it tasted, and even more pleasantly surprised when Ian ate it (and the chickpeas and kale that I served as the other main dish) without much comment or complaint. He seemed to like trying to pronounce the words, "baingan bharta," and like most typical preschoolers, started giggling uncontrollably when, turning over the phrase on his tongue, he happened upon "bangin' barfa."
You don't need to know how to pronounce it in order to make it, though. I recommend that you serve this with naan or roti or chapati, and consider some greens and a mango lassi. Whatever you do, enjoy the alliteration.
4-5 T. light olive oil
1 c. finely chopped onions
1 (2"x1") piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated to a pulp
1 c. peeled and chopped very ripe tomatoes (though it's OK not to peel them if you're feeling lazy like I was)
1 1/2 t. ground cumin
1/8 t. cayenne
3/4 t. salt
1/8 to 1/4 t. garam masala
1 large eggplant (1 1/2 lbs.)
2-3 T. coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
splash of lemon juice
Preheat oven to 450. Prick the eggplant all over with a fork and place it in a shallow baking dish. Bake, turning every 15 minutes. One pound of eggplants will take about an hour. They should flatten and turn very soft. Then peel the eggplants, chop off the stem end, and chop coarsely. Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium high heat. Add the onions; stir fry until brown around the edges. Add the ginger and stir for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, and stir fry until slightly reduced, 3 to 5 minutes. Add cumin, cayenne, garam masala, and salt; stir to mix. Now stir in the eggplant. Reduce heat to medium and cook for another 10-14 minutes. Add cilantro and lemon juice and mix well.