Friday, October 3, 2008

EGGPLANT: A Secret ingredient

I have been busy harvesting and having to find ways to "dispose" of the quantity of things in my garden. I thought I’d share, hope there are eggplant lovers around.

Eggplants need to be used very soon after picking….especially the smaller varieties. Their quality deteriorates quickly. I also have a deluge of basil. (3 lbs yesterday) more today. I have made pesto till I think I am going to turn into garlic! BTW, anyone ever make pesto with sage, wow, I did it yesterday after I heard it suggested on the CBS morning TV program.

I used parsley, sage, 2 large cloves of garlic and sea salt…leave out the cheese.. I didn’t put any nuts in either (I don't put nuts in my basil pesto either. To me it doesn't really effect the taste and it does ad expense and calories to the pesto). I can’t wait till I can try it on a grilled chicken breast..

Anyway back to the secret ingredient. It isn't the Eggplant.

I was making ratatouille. Ratatouille can include anything you have in the fridge. There are a few things that are standard. Mine usually has Summer Squash of some kind, diced in large dice. Eggplant, if it is small egg plant like "purple rain" I slice it in 3/8 inch thick slices (I don't recommend the finger Japanese type eggplants, they melt when they cook). Onions, I use a lot of these diced in 1/4 inch dice. Peppers, all colors, preferably thick fleshed peppers that are ripe. Cut them just like the onions. Some people like string beans in it...not me.

Spices and herbs: I never add salt or pepper, I feel there are shakers on the table if you need it you can use them. I always added several cloves of minced garlic in the sauteing of the vegetables.

Most of the herbs I add when the dish is almost completely prepared. They only need enough time to heat through, dispersing their flavors. Lemon Thyme is a standard in lots of dishes for me. You don't have to chop the leaves just strip them from the stems, adding them about 5 minutes before the end of cooking. Basil is a must. I have found for me the more the better. This can be added ten minutes before finishing, but then right before I take it off the stove I add a handful of basil cheffinod (Sp.? you know where you cut it in tiny skinny little strips).

Fresh tomatoes are a must. If not available then you can used canned store ones.

This time I didn't have the tomatoes and needed to use the canned varieties. All I had was tomato sauce. I had already started the dish and there was no turning back or changing it into something else. I had already added the Eggplant. Everything was sauteing and waiting

On the side of the stove is a huge pile of red and gold delicious apples (a neighbor had a windfall and donated them to us). At the time I was cubing up the squash and glanced over and thought…I wonder. I had only made the Dutch oven 1/3 full because My husband hates eggplant. I peeled and cubed a huge golden in the mix. I made the cubes about ½ inch or larger each…the same size as the squash. Cooked until they started to soften. Then I added the sauce and simmered it until the Apples were almost done. I tasted it, the tomato sauce and garlic and other flavors had permeated the apple, wonderful. It looked like the squash so no one would know the difference. It added the slight sweet touch that the canned tomatoes lacked… making it taste like I had used fresh tomatoes (which I hadn’t because I don’t have any in the garden right now.) I had found my secret ingreedient. Of course it isn't a secret anymore I am sharing it with the world.

I proceeded to add the last minute herbs. Added the lemon Thyme and the basil, simmered for 5 minutes, then I added chives and parsley and the skinny sliced basil. I took the dish off the stove and left it covered. Of course I indulged. A delight to the taste buds. BTW, this is also good cold.
 New Article on my blog: 
A mystery quilt designed with the novice in mind
First Clue to be presented October 16.
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Where I have stories of my cats and other pets
a blog about my courtship with my husband,
and a blog about my most embarrassing moment.
A "Soap box" blog where I do air my opinions.
blogs about the wildflowers on our farm
Organic methods we use, some cooking and some poetry,
blogs about Seed sprouting, insects, and garden pictures
Blog about an endangered beneficial beetle
New Blog:
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Yvonne said...

mmmm! Send me some! Sounds yummy!

MouseChirpy said...

I love eggplant too. Thank you for the recipe suggestions.
I would like to wish you and your family a healthy, happy and safe holiday season.
Mele Kalikimaka and Hauoli Makahiki Hou!