Saturday, February 24, 2007

Copy Cat, Baked Eggplant

Alex’s mom is a great cook. She makes the best sauces and salads I’ve tasted. I’ve always been scared to try my hand at her dishes because I know that my attempts will never match hers. I’m also afraid that because Alex has developed such a standard for these foods, it’ll be hard to meet his expectations.

There are three things she makes that after having, I simply cannot live without. They are: fatoush, tabouli, and baked eggplant. Fatoush is a delicious salad of tomatoes, onions, cucumbers and mint, topped with baked pita bread Tabouli is a chopped herb salad composed of parsley, bulgur, tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice. She serves it wrapped in lettuce leafs and it is addictive and refreshing. As for the baked eggplant, I do not know what ingredients she uses. But, I do know that I could happily eat the whole pan if no one was watching.

I came across deliciously ripe eggplant and decided to try and recreate her recipe. I knew I would need garlic, tomatoes, onions, parsley, and a substantial amount of time to let it bake.

The result of my attempt was not the dish I love but nonetheless delicious. After this initial test I now know to use vinegar and less red pepper flakes next time. I also think I’ll slice the eggplant in thin strips rather then cube like triangles. Finally, I plan on adding the onions later so that they keep their taste and crispness.

Baked Eggplant

2 eggplants
15-20 pearl onions
½ cup Italian parsley, divided
5 cloves of garlic, diced
2 tbsp. tomato paste (I used sun dried)
1 large can of crushed tomatoes (I used tomato-basil but I think anything would work.)
1 cup water
2 tbsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp ground cumin
Salt and pepper to taste

Rice to serve ( I like Bastami or Jasmine )

Prepare onions: slice in half and sauté in olive oil until browned. Remove from pan.
Drizzle more olive oil in pan, add garlic and sauté for three minutes.
Add eggplant to garlic and drizzle with olive oil, coating all slices.
Cover eggplant and cook for 5 minutes, toss twice.
Add tomato paste to eggplant and distribute evenly.
Place Eggplant mixture and onions in baking pan.
Pour crushed tomatoes over eggplant and onions, add water and ½ the parsley.
Stir in spices then cover in aluminum and bake at 375 degrees for two hours.
Uncover and place under broiler for five minutes until browned on top. Serve on top of rice and sprinkle with remaining parsley.

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