Posts Tagged ‘eggplant’

Eggplant Marinara Sauce

September 24, 2010

My friend Heather M. has a garden. Wonderful things come out of this garden. She grows giant zucchini!

The tomato is there for size comparison. It’s not a big tomato or a small tomato, but an average sized tomato. But still – look at the size of that zucchini!

She has also given me peppers, tomatoes and, my favorite, Japanese eggplant.

My Grandma goes to a little produce stand in the North San Fernando Valley (a suburb of Los Angeles) once a month to get the most amazing, flavorful, huge, ripe tomatoes I’ve ever had. Here’s one next to a decent sized head of garlic:

I found myself with a bunch of tomatoes and a bunch of Heather’s Japanese eggplant that were about to go bad. So I decided to roast them with a bunch of other vegetables and make a marinara sauce with them. This sauce is deceptively simple, but has the most wonderful, creamy, hearty texture and delicious, rich, complex flavor.

Here’s what you do! Get out a big sheet pan. Cut 5 or 6 small Japanese eggplant in half. Peel and cut some onions in half (red and white). Cut the very top off a couple of heads of garlic and put them on the sheet pan – skin and all. Put some delicious tomatoes on there too. If you have room, you can also add peppers or any other veggies you feel like sneaking into the sauce. Coat all the veggies in olive oil, mixing them around with your hands. Wipe off your hands and then sprinkle them all generously with salt and pepper.

Pop them into a 450F oven for 40 minutes or until the eggplant are very soft and almost falling apart.

Take the veggies out and let them sit until they are cool enough to handle. Squeeze each garlic clove out of its skin and throw out the skins.

In the meantime, if you want mushrooms or other whole veggies in your sauce, saute them in a little olive oil in a big sauce pan. Now you should add whatever herbs you like: oregano, thyme, rosemary, fennel, and basil are all good. Next, deglaze the pan with a little white wine and cook until the alcohol is mostly cooked off. Now you’re ready to start blending!

Get out your trusty blender or food processor and blend up those roasted veggies in batches. Pour the resulting puree into the sauce pan with the other veggies and herbs. Mix well, taste for salt and add some if you need it. I usually don’t. Heat up and serve over the pasta of your choice with a little bit of a good quality parmesan grated on top. 

This is a great way to get a bunch of vegetables into you (or your kids) without feeling like you just ate a garden. The roasted garlic and eggplant make the sauce extremely rich and creamy, but there’s no fat in it other than the olive oil you roasted the veggies in and the little bit of parmesan cheese you may choose to put on top!

Adventures In Curry

July 28, 2010

My friend Heather M. gave me a bunch of veggies from her garden including lots of Japanese eggplant. Then she posted on facebook about a Thai recipe and it got me poking around the internet. My favorite Thai dish by far is beef panang. I thought why not make eggplant panang? I looked at several recipes that used premade red curry paste, but that’s not what I wanted. I wanted to make it from scratch. Finally, I stumbled across this recipe.

The next step was to find a place to buy the exotic ingredients listed in the recipe. I went over to Yelp and did a search for “Thai Market” in my area code. Bangluck Market seemed like the best place to go. I decided at this point to make green curry (a recipe from culinary school) later in the week as long as I was going out to get ingredients. Reviews of the market were mixed. Some said it was dirty. Some said they didn’t take credit cards and that the parking was a nightmare. I headed over to Bangluck, not knowing quite what to expect.

Got there and scored a parking spot right in front of the store. One obstacle down. Went in, got a cart and started looking around. The shelves and flooring were obviously old and well used, but definitely not dirty. I got to the dried chile section. The recipe calls for large red dried chiles. Well, that doesn’t really help because they had several kinds. I found an employee and told him I was making panang and asked which chiles I should buy. He asked one of the female employees at the front and here’s what I ended up with:

I found everything else I needed with no help except for the coriander (cilantro) root. I figured I’d just add extra ground coriander to the recipe and not worry about it.

Here are some of my other spoils. Lime leaves and galangal:

Thai basil and thai green chilies:

Coconut Milk, Palm Sugar, and Shrimp Paste:

I came home and started making the panang paste right away. The recipe said to use a mortar and pestle. I have tendonitis and carpel tunnel syndrome in both hands. That just was NOT going to happen. So I used my trusty food processor. I threw ALL the listed ingredients except the meat and the coconut milk into the machine. Whizzed it up and ended up with this paste:

Ta-da! I just fried up the curry in the coconut cream from the top of the coconut milk can, added the milk, a little chicken broth and put the eggplant in. I’m gonna let it braise until my husband gets home and then eat it up. I cheated and tasted the sauce and it is as good as it looks!