Last night I dreamed about eggplant. When I do remember my dreams, I like to check the online dream dictionaries so I don’t spend my morning thinking things like, “What on earth does a bicycle (or an eggplant) appearing in my dream mean?” For some inexplicable reason, none of my go-to dream interpretation websites offered an answer. Eggs, yes. Plants, yes. But no eggplant. (OK, I’m not really shocked there isn’t an interpretation for dreaming about eggplant, but I can’t be the only one! Can I?) My own interpretation of my night of nightshade leans towards me falling asleep while trying to figure out what to do with the eggplant sitting in my fridge right now. Eggplants are .79/lb. at Russo’s this week. Cook that up with some rice or quinoa on the side, we’re all set for dinner and some lunches, too.
I’m on the fence about salting, which is said to prevent a prickly bitterness on the tongue. I used to be fanatical about it, but I didn’t the last two times I cooked eggplant, and I thought it was fine. Nonetheless, this is how I prepare my eggplant for salting: First I peel it, then slice the eggplant into fourths. I put it on a baking pan and sprinkle it with kosher salt. I wait about 20 minutes, and in the meanwhile, do things like chop up onion and get out my spices. After 20 minutes, I return to my eggplant, which now looks like it has spent the last 20 minutes on the elliptical at the gym as the salt has sweated out a lot of the bitterness to the top of its flesh. This has also made my vegetable less watery and less able to soak up oil. Some people suggest running the eggplant under the faucet to get the salt off. I lean towards wiping it down with a wet paper towel. Now your eggplant is good to go.
I’m a little embarrassed that my first recipe for my blog is a curry. I feel like I am being lazy somehow. Copping out: Oh, a vegetarian blog featuring a curry? What’s next, chickpeas and sprouts? But the truth of the matter is, this is my go-to recipe when I have an eggplant and just can’t think straight anymore.
Adapted from The New Moosewood Cookbook (Mollie Katzen’s Classic Cooking)
If you’re new to this whole veggie thing, and would like a good starting off point, I cannot say enough good things about Moosewood. Seriously, if you were to own just one vegetarian cookbook, this is the one. Every few years the publishers do some sort of update, making the rich-in-dairy dishes a little more heart friendly, but any edition of the book would be an excellent addition to your cookbook shelf.
Preparation Time: 45 minutes
(Put up rice when you begin)
2 to 3 Tbs butter and/or peanut oil
1 Tbs mustard seed
2 Tbs. sesame seeds
2 tsp. cumin seeds
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 1/2 to 2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. turmeric
1/4 tsp. cayenne (possibly more depending on your tolerance/preference)
2 medium eggplants (7 to 8 inches long; 4-inch diameter at roundest point), cut into 1-inch cubes
water, as needed
1 cup frozen peas
optional: 1 small bunch of fresh cilantro, minced
1) Heat butter or oil over medium heat in a very large, deep skillet. Add seeds, and saute until they begin to pop (About 5 minutes)
2) Add onion, salt, turmeric and cayenne. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent (12-15 minutes)
I’ve noticed that the pan gets very dry at this point, so I often find myself adding a little more oil so my seeds and onion don’t burn.
3) Add eggplant and salt. Cook, stirring from the bottom regularly, for 15 to 20 minutes — until the eggplant is soft. You might need to add a little water if the mixture is too dry. Cover the pan between stirrings.
4) About 25 minutes in, the eggplant should have lost all will to behave like eggplant. It should be really mushy. At this point, stir in the frozen peas. Give it another 7 minutes or so, so that the peas cook up with the curry.
5) Serve the curry over rice, and top with fresh cilantro.