Friday, September 08, 2006

Is It Eggplant or Eggplants?

One of Jim's customers owns and operates a vegetable farm. He was having trouble with his internet, so Jim swung by there the other day on his way home and got things fixed up for the guy. He was very appreciative when Jim said there was no charge, so he insisted on sending Jim home with a box FULL of vegetables. He had these things ready to go to market in the morning so he just started grabbing things and throwing them into a box.

We got some eggplants. (Is it eggplant even if it's plural, or eggplants?)

Some hot banana peppers.

Some sweet Cubanelle peppers.

And some cucumbers.

As you can tell by these photos, this is way more than 2 people can eat before things start to go mushy and bad. So we bagged up some stuff and Jim dropped a bunch off at his mom's for her and left a bag for Gina. I took some over to Trish.

Now, I'm not a big fan of eggplant. I never have been, but I can eat it if I have to. I haven't had any for a few years and thought I would give it another go. I dug this recipe out of a cookbook I have called Simple Vegetarian Pleasures by Jeanne Lemlin and thought with all the other ingredients it would taste nummy. It made quite a large casserole dish and it smelled pretty good.

I dished it up and thought it looked really good. But, alas, there was something about it that I just didn't like. I'm not sure if it was the eggplant or not, but I ended up just eating the noodles, some bread and salad. Jim liked it well enough which was good because he got to finish up the leftovers while I was working.
I would be maybe tempted to try this again minus the eggplant and maybe add tofu or just nothing.

Anyhow, I'll share the recipe in case someone else would like to try it and give their feedback.


A non-stick skillet allows you to fry eggplant with just a little oil rather than the generous amounts normally used to brown it. While the eggplant is frying and the pasta water is coming to a boil, use this time to prepare the remaining ingredients and you'll have it all ready to assemble by the time the shells are cooked.

4 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium (1¼ pounds) eggplant, peeled and diced (¾-inch dice)
½ pound small pasta shells
6 garlic cloves, minced
¼ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1½ cups canned crushed tomatoes (or tomato puree)
2 tbsp. dry red wine
½ tsp. salt
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
¼ cup chopped fresh basil (or 1 tsp. Dried)
½ diced roasted red peppers, store bought or freshly roasted
4 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
1 ½ cups grated Mozzarella cheese

1. Bring a large stockpot of water to a boil. Heat 1 tbsp. of the oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Fry half the eggplant, tossing often, until it begins to brown and appears somewhat translucent or shiny. Initially the eggplant will absorb the oil and look dry; don’t add any more oil, just keep frying and tossing until it’s juices are released. When done, the eggplant should be still somewhat firm because it will bake further in the oven. Don’t overcook it.
2. Remove the eggplant and place it in a shallow 2½ quart baking dish. Using 1 tbsp. of the oil, fry the second batch of eggplant in the same way.
3. When the pasta water is ready, drop in the shells. Cook until al dente, not mushy. Drain in a colander, then return to the pot.
4. Place the remaining 2 tbsp. of the oil in the skillet. Add the garlic and hot pepper flakes and cook 1-2 minutes, just until fragrant but not coloured. Stir in the tomatoes, wine, salt, parsley, basil and red peppers. Cook 2 minutes, and remove from the heat.
5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
6. Stir the eggplant, sauce and 2 tbsp. of the Parmesan cheese into the pasta shells. Place half of this mixture in the casserole dish that held the eggplant (you don’t need to dirty another dish this way). Top with the Mozzarella cheese. Spread the remaining pasta mixture on top, then sprinkle on the remaining 2 tbsp. of Parmesan cheese. Cover the dish with foil. (The casserole can be prepared to this point, covered and refrigerated up to 24 hours in advance.)
7. Bake 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Remove the foil and bake 5 more minutes.

Serves 4


Anonymous said...

You lucky girl!
Mmm...make some roasted eggplant and red pepper puree. So good, even just on crackers.

megan the vegan

Shananigans said...

Wow, lucky you with all those fresh vegetables! I like eggplant, but I’m always looking for new ways to prepare it. I had some success with and Indian eggplant dish, it’s in this post. It also calls for jalapeno but I’m sure you could substitute with any of those other lovely chilis you’ve got there. A nice change form the Italian dishes I usually make with eggplant. I ended up eating the leftovers with quinoa, it was actually a much better pairing than the sweet potatoes.

Megan’s right, simple roasted red pepper and eggplant spread is really good too. Oooh, I bet you could blend that with hummus for a really killer dip, I gotta try that.

Carrie™ said...

Well, eggplant red pepper spread seems to be a favorite, so I'll have to try it. Thank you ladies!

Tanya Kristine said...

it DOES look good but i hate eggplant too. it's slimy & gooey...the onlything slimy & gooey i like is ice cream sundaes.

but damn that sure looks good!

funwithyourfood said...

well it looks good to me and i LIKE eggplant HA

sorry it wasn't to your liking


Anonymous said...

Have you tried grilling eggplant? marinate it in evoo, garlic, vinegar, spices and salt/pepper.. and grill it.. It's not nearly as slimey..

my recipe for grilled eggplant is on the front page of my website:


Dr. Melissa West said...

Now that recipe looks fantastic! Thanks for sharing. I love eggplant.

High Power Rocketry said...

As always, great looking meal. Makes me hungry but its past 10, I cant eat!

Vicki's Vegan Vice said...

the barter system is great & you guys got some beautiful veggies there. eggplants are pretty, but i've not acquired a taste for them either... what are your plans for the rest?