Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Multi-Purpose Eggplant Stew Recipe

I have been feeling under the weather for the past few days, so I decided that I needed to make myself some good comfort food.  Knowing that I have had an eggplant in my fridge (taunting me with its time-consuming goodness), I figured that it was about time to put it to good use.  I started out wanting to make a ratatouille, but didn't have any zucchini so I came up with this recipe instead.

The Multi-Purpose Eggplant Stew Recipe

4 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion (cut into a small dice)
3 cloves of garlic (minced)
1 red bell pepper (cut into thin strips)
1 large eggplant (large dice)
1 28oz can of crushed tomatoes in puree
1 28oz can of diced tomatoes
2 tsp salt
Black pepper (to taste)
Your choice of seasonings** (I'll discuss this later)

Heat 4 tbsp of olive oil in a pan on high heat.  Your pan should hold at least 4 quarts.  I'm using 5 quart covered saute pan but a saucier or stock pot would also work.

Finely dice your onion, set aside about 1/8th of a cup, and add the rest to the oil.  Allow the onion to brown a bit.  I actually let my darken quite a bit because I like the flavor that caramelized onions add to a recipe.  

Mince and add two of the three cloves of garlic to the onions.  Add 1 tsp of salt.

Slice up the red pepper and add it to the pan.  Your kitchen probably smells fantastic.  Add the rest of the onion (by not allowing some of the onion to caramelize, you will get greater depth in your oniony flavor).
Cut your eggplant into a large dice.  Add about a half cup of eggplant at a time allowing the eggplant in the pan to brown before adding more.  If you add the eggplant too quickly, it will get mushy without browning.  Stir.

After you have added the last of the eggplant to the pan, mince your final clove of garlic and add it to the pan.

Saute the mixture for a few minutes until all of the eggplant has been browned.  Add 1 tsp salt.

Finally, add your cans of crushed and diced tomato.  Do not drain the cans before adding.

Add your seasonings** and simmer on low for at least 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally.


From this base recipe, it is possible to create any number of delicious combinations.  Feel free to adjust the seasonings according to your personal taste and contents of your pantry. 

Variation #1 - Baigan Curry
If desired, don't put the crushed tomatoes into the base recipe.  It ends up a bit too tomato-y.
2 peeled and diced potatoes
1 tsp chilli powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp mustard seeds (optional, but delicious)
1 1/2 tbsp chopped ginger
Garnish with cilantro (coriander) leaves.
Serve over rice

Variation #2 - Ratatouille
2 zucchini (or 1 summer squash and 1 zucchini) diced and added with the eggplant
1 bay leaf
2 tbsp dried parsley
2 tbsp dried thyme
2 tbsp dried basil
(or 3 tbsp Herbes de Provence)

Variation #3 - Italian
2 tbsp dried parsley
2 tbsp dried oregano
2 tbsp dried basil
2 tbsp dried garlic powder
Garnish with Parmesan cheese.
Serve over pasta

Variation #4 - Southwestern
2 tsp (or more) chili powder
2 tsp (or more) cayenne powder
2 tsp ancho chili powder
2 tbsp dried parsley or cilantro
(or you can use a spice blend of your choosing)

Variation #5 - Soup
Add one quart of vegetable stock and your choice of seasonings.


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