Of Eggs and Eggplant

Returning to eggs and eggplant and finding more imaginative and delicious ways to prepare them is part of the challenge in my kitchen. I succeeded in adding two more eggplant dishes to my repertoire and two more egg dishes, though one became a staple when we were members of a community supported agriculture (CSA) group in the time before COVID.

Eggplant. The first new dish crossed my computer screen a little while ago. Eggplant Koresh or  stew was heralded as “The Dish That Unites Iranian Jewish Expatriates” (https://www.tabletmag.com/sections/food/articles/khoresh-stew-unites-iranian-jewish-expatriates).  Read the article for all sorts of background and descriptions of khoreshes; maybe you’ll be inspired to expand your own repertoire.

Iran is among the many places where Constant Companion lived before our lives came together. He taught English there just before the Islamic Revolution. A number of college friends were from Iran. I was romanced by the then- exoticism of it, and the amazingly beautiful textiles. To make a long story short, I’ve used several cookbook recipes to cook khoresh with lamb and loads of green herbs. The variation with eggplant caught my fancy.

Eggplant Khoresh. As usual, I adjusted the recipe to what the pantry held: one large eggplant, three tomatoes, one onion, and the seasonings. The recipe in the article includes lamb, mine was meatless.

Partially peel the eggplant. Cut it lengthwise in strips about 1/2” thick. Place in a bowl or colander and sprinkle with salt (this step is to remove any bitterness from the eggplant). Dice the onion and brown in olive oil stirring regularly, remove from pan. Rinse the eggplant. Cut the tomatoes in half. Add about ¼ cup of oil to the hot frying pan, lay the eggplants in the pan and reduce the heat. Turn the eggplant regularly til browned, about 12 minutes. Remove and drain on a baking sheet. Next, brown the tomatoes for about 3 minutes and remove. Add 3 tablespoons of tomato paste, ½ tsp of saffron, juice from 3-4 limes, salt and pepper and return the onions, eggplant, and tomatoes to the frying pan. Reduce to simmer and cook for about an hour. Makes a great side dish and delicious as a cold leftover.

Eggplant and Lentil Stew with Pomegranate Molasses. Our family enjoys lentils, so this sounded like it would pass muster. It does and I’ve cooked it twice already.

Again, start by partially peeling the eggplant and cutting into strips. I cut mine into chunks – who knows? Sprinkle with salt and let stand for an hour. Clean and cook the lentils as you would normally, drain. Toss 1 chopped onion with 4 minced garlic cloves, 2 tomatoes, 1 tbsp tomato paste, and  2 green chiles and ¼ tsp  crushed red pepper (I omitted both).

Rinse the eggplant and pat dry. Spread ½ cup of the vegetable mixture in a casserole or saucepan to which you’ve added some oil, top with half the eggplant, and cover with half the cooked lentils. Add about half of the remaining vegetables and top with eggplant, lentils, and the rest of the vegetables. Top with about 1/3 cup of olive oil and drizzle with ¼ cup pomegranate molasses. Bring stew to boil, simmer over low heat for about 1 ½ hours.

We enjoyed our most recent incarnation of eggplant and lentil stew with my polenta tomato tart (see 2-23-21 post) and eggs and kale. And that leads us to two recent dishes using eggs, not as plentiful as in the past months, but still enough to try new things.

Eggs nestled in CSA greens. Please don’t call this green shakshouka. I have an issue with assigning newly incarnated somewhat versions of foods names of traditional or somewhat traditional dishes. Our world is getting smaller and smaller. I’d like to see some respect given to food traditions and the people with whom they originated.

I might had a recipe at one time, but I like to improvise according to what’s on hand. The original was for Swiss chard with fingerling potatoes. This time, I had eggs, kale, onions. You can also add chunks of zucchini or yellow squash, which you brown in a sauté pan with the onion, salt and pepper (and garlic if you like) before dumping in the kale. When you cook with kale or other greens, you cook them down a little, then add more, and continue until you pan is full of lovely wilted vegetables. When the concoction seems almost done, make a few wells in the greens (one for each egg), crack the eggs, cover, and cook about 5-7 minutes more. It’s an easy meal if you should have a drop-in vegetarian guest (those were the days!) at dinner time.

Oven-Baked Pancake. I was intrigued by a posting on thekitchen last week https://www.thekitchn.com/skillet-pancake-recipe-23136133). So curious that I borrowed the proverbial milk (a commodity infrequently found in our kitchen) from a neighbor. Neither Constant Companion nor I have milk in our regular diet and he has a hard time with dairy. The recipe calls for buttermilk, which he can digest. A generous squeeze of lemon juice in milk is an easy way to make a substitute for buttermilk.

Heat the oven to 375 degree Fahrenheit. Mix 1 ¼ cup of flour with 2 tbsp of sugar, 2 tsp of baking powder, and ½ tsp of kosher salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix 1 ¼ cup of buttermilk with 2 large egg yokes and 4 tbsp of melted butter (I used olive oil). Mix the wet and dry ingredients together. Whip the egg whites to stiff peaks (oops, actually the recipe just says to add the egg whites, I guess I did it wrong!). Set the batter aside for 10 minutes to rest – I washed the dishes and put stuff away during this time.

Melt 2 tbsp of butter in a heated skillet or oven-ready sauté pan (I sprayed it with non-stick spray). Add the batter to the pan in an even layer. I topped half with blueberries, half without in deference to Daughter who does not like blueberries. Bake for 25-30 minutes, til puffed and golden brown. We enjoyed this easy to make dish with last night’s dinner. It made a nice dessert for our dinner.

The feature image of eggplants and tomatoes is Charles Demuth, Eggplant and Tomatoes, c. 1927, watercolor on paper, The Palmer Museum of Art.

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