Eggplant-Sausage Casserole

October 17, 2007

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Make this one-dish meal as hot and spicy as you like. I’ve always heard that eggplant is better the second day, but there might not be any left for the second day. HARRY

1 medium Italian eggplant, cubed
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 pound pork sausage
1 large onion, coarsely chopped (1 cup)
1 teaspoon toasted, ground cumin
1 pinch red pepper flakes or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup plus 1/2 cup fine, dry bread crumbs, divided
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cook the eggplant in a small amount of boiling, salted water until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain in a colander, place a weighted plate on top, and set aside. In a heavy skillet over medium-high heat, cook the sausage, onion, cumin, and red pepper flakes until the sausage is browned. Remove from the heat, drain if necessary, and add the eggplant, black pepper, 1 cup bread crumbs, and eggs. Pour into a greased 1 1/2-quart casserole. In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1/2 cup bread crumbs and the butter. Spread on top of the eggplant mixture and bake for 30 minutes or until browned.
Makes 4 servings.


Eggplant Tapenade

September 4, 2007

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Serve this addictive eggplant dip as an appetizer, and it might just segue into an easy meal. SAM

1 large globe eggplant
1 tablespoon water
1 large roasted red bell pepper
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives
2 teaspoons capers, drained
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon hot curry powder or more to taste
1/2 cup tahini
2 tablespoons canned tuna, if desired
2 medium cloves garlic, pressed
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Sea salt to taste

Cut the eggplant in half and place cut-side down in an 8- by 8-inch baking pan. Add the water, cover with plastic wrap, leaving one corner open, and microwave on high for 9 to 10 minutes or until collapsed. Microwave longer in 1- or 2-minute intervals, if necessary. Cool and scrap from the skin into the bowl of a food processor or a mixing bowl. Add the roasted pepper, olives, capers, cumin, curry powder, tahini, tuna, garlic, oil, and lemon juice. Pulse 5 or 6 times with the food processor or an immersion blender until roughly pureed. Season with salt. Serve with crackers, chips, or pita.
Makes 2 cups.


Ratatouille

July 9, 2007

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Ratatouille is summer vegetables stewed in olive oil with fresh herbs. Make it on a day when you’re not in a hurry. Like any good stew—or soup—it can’t be rushed. In traditional Provençal kitchens, each ingredient is cooked separately. The theory is that you cook away watery juices and intensify flavors before mixing everything into a succulent whole. I find, though, that the onions and bell pepper cook nicely together. Then you can add the tomatoes and herbs. You do have to cook the zucchini and eggplant separately. They both have a lot of juices you don’t want in your final stew. You can gussy it up with crushed coriander seeds or ground cumin or saffron if you like, but you don’t have to. Hope for leftovers. Like anything made with eggplant, ratatouille is better the second day. SAM

PS Despite what you see on the summer movie marquee, ratatouille is pronounced rata’ twee, NOT rat a too ee.

PS2 For a photo of of the Ratatouille Lakshmi made in South India, click here.

2 large onions, thinly sliced
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, pressed
Bouquet garni: 3 or 4 sprigs each of parsley, thyme, and oregano, tied with cotton thread
1 bay leaf
1 pound ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1 pound eggplant, thinly sliced
1 pound small zucchini, thinly sliced
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

In a large chef’s pan over low heat, sweat the onions and bell pepper in 2 tablespoons oil, covered, until onions are translucent, about 20 minutes. Raise the heat to medium, add the garlic and tomatoes, and sauté for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, add the bouquet garni and bay leaf, cover, and simmer. Meanwhile, in another pan over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons oil. Add the zucchini, cover, and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Uncover and sauté until liquid is reduced, about 5 minutes. Transfer to the onion-tomato mixture. In the same pan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Add the eggplant and sauté until browned, stirring frequently, about 15 minutes. Transfer to the onion-tomato mixture. Season with salt and pepper and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. Discard the bouquet garni and bay leaf. Serve as a stew or over rice or couscous.
Makes 6 servings.


Cooking Tip: Baba Ghanouj

June 2, 2007

I made Baba Ghanouj last night with two less-than-one-pound eggplants. One microwaved perfectly. The other, even though I cooked it an extra three minutes, didn’t soften enough to be fluffed with a fork. I didn’t want to overcook it, so I pureed it slightly with an immersion blender. The texture wasn’t quite like fork texture, but it tasted great. EMILY


Baba Ghanouj

May 25, 2007

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A young friend of mine told me awhile back she had never bought an eggplant because she didn’t know what to do with it. Well, here’s what you do with it. SAM

PS For an additional microwaving tip, click here.

1 large globe eggplant (1 1/2 pounds)
1 tablespoon water
2 cloves garlic, pressed
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 tablespoons tahini
Juice of 1 small lemon (2 tablespoons)
1/2 teaspoon toasted ground cumin, or more to taste
Sea salt to taste

Cut the eggplant in half and place cut-side down in a glass baking dish. Add the water, cover with plastic wrap leaving one corner open, and microwave on high for 8 to 9 minutes or until the skin is slightly wrinkled and begins to collapse. Microwave longer in 1- or 2-minute intervals, if necessary. Still under the plastic, cool for half an hour, then gently squeeze out any excess juice and scrap the flesh into a medium mixing bowl. Beat with a pastry fork until light. Add the garlic, olive oil, tahini, lemon juice, cumin, and salt. Beat until well blended. Drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Serve with pita bread.
Makes 2 cups.