Eggplant

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Last week, followers of the pre-Christian religions celebrated Lammas, one of the harvest festivals. In honor of this, I made a batch of eggplant stew. 

If you’ve had ratatouille, it’s the same concept, only without the peppers and zucchini. I had the stuff, but not the energy to go the whole nine yards with the chopping. 

I based my creation on the recipe in Cook Italy. It’s a basic red sauce with eggplant added. I did a couple of things differently: 1. rather than messing with scooping out the seeds, I salted the eggplant to pull the bitter juices out and 2. I sprinkled in a few red pepper flakes to give it a kick. 

That night, I had it over gluten-free pasta with a grating of a hard sheep cheese. Yum. I made pizza with a socca crust, goat cheese crumbles, and kalamata olives. The next night I had another round of pasta and sauce. 

My love affair with eggplant didn’t start until I was in my twenties and married. With a bowl of her baba ganouche, my mother-in-law made me into an eggplant lover. I had no idea what I was eating. All I knew was that it was one of the best things that I’d ever put in my mouth. She was a little vague about what was in there. I asked one of Hubby’s sisters. She replied, “Oh, yeah. Eggplant, tahini, and garlic.”

And that was all that went into this taste of nirvana. My version goes something like this:

Slice one good-sized eggplant vertically. Liberally salt the cut sides and let them sit for a half hour to pull the yuck out. In the mean time if you want to be fancy, roast a head of foil-wrapped garlic for about an hour. Otherwise, just chop it up very finely. Roast the eggplant halves at 350 for about 30-45 minutes until they go limp. (You can also grill them and the garlic for about the same amount of time.)  Scoop the flesh from the skin into a food processor along with a 1/4-1/2 cup of tahini and the garlic, then let it rip. Put into a pretty bowl and serve with pita triangles and veggies. 

Or…if you dive in with a spoon, your secret will be safe with me. Especially if you let me join you. 

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