Emergence of the Domestic Goddess

September 9, 2007 at 5:44 pm (books, cooking, environment)

Inspired by the wonderful book “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” by Barbara Kingsolver (along with her husband and daughter), I’m bringing out my domestic side.  I’m doing some “putting up” this weekend.  Kingsolver’s book (in case you haven’t heard) is all about eating local, seasonal food for better health, global consciousness, and to support local economy.  Putting up food for the winter is an important part of being a “locavore”, it is the only way to eat vegetables and fruit year round without resorting to buying food imported in from South America or other distant places.  And to be clear, I’m definitely not joining the locavore movement completely.  For one thing, I don’t have the freezer or cellar space for a winter’s worth of canned and frozen food.  Also, I don’t have the time or energy to complete this task.  But for some foods, I think it may just be worth a little bit of effort to reap the rewards later.

Lately, I have gotten into cooking with roasted eggplant – and for those of you that read my other blog, I’m truly not obsessed with eggplant, I promise, just bare with me!  I remember from years past, its exceedingly hard to find edible looking eggplant during the winter at the local supermarket.  So this weekend, I am roasting, pureeing and freezing eggplants. It freezes remarkably well in roasted form in freezer bags.  While at the grocery store yesterday, I scurried gleefully over to the eggplants in the produce section.  I was more excited than I should have been at the sight of lots of big, beautiful eggplants – all for 99 cents a piece!!  So I bought six of them, and god knows what the cashier thought of me, but who cares.  I’m sure it wasn’t the weirdest purchase she encountered that day.  I also got a strange look for my cotton mesh produce bags that I bring from home, I’m sure she thought I was just some tree hugging freak, which is OK with me.

The undergraduate student that I’m training at work always asks me what kind of plans I have for the weekend.  No doubt she already views me as a total science geek, and I’m flinching a little to think how she’d view me if she knew that my weekend plans centered around putting up roasted eggplant.

So after the jump, I’ll put my two favorite roasted eggplant recipes (same ones I’ve put on my other blog).  One is Roasted Eggplant Orzo Soup and the other is Roasted Eggplant Marinara.  They really are tasty, easy and quite healthy.

Roasted Eggplant Orzo Soup

 1 large eggplant, roasted and pureed

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 large onion, finely diced

2 large or 3 small carrots, finely diced

2-3 cloves garlic, finely minced

4 C chicken stock

2-3 cups water

4 oz (dry weight) orzo pasta

1 bay leaf

1 ½ tsp garam masala (Penzey’s is recommended)

½ tsp allspice

2 Tbsp heavy cream

black pepper to taste

salt to taste

1 squeeze fresh lemon juice

Start by roasting the eggplant.  Put the eggplant whole into a 400F oven for 50-60 minutes, or until it gives easily when pushed.  It should look like a deflated tire after it has cooled.  Once it is cool, scoop the flesh into a food processor and grind it to a relatively smooth consistency.  At this stage, you can use the eggplant immediately, or store in a Ziploc bag in the freezer after squeezing all the air out of the bag.

 In a big soup pot, heat the olive oil, then add the finely diced onions, carrots and bay leaf.  Sauté in the oil until the veggies start to soften, then add the garlic and sauté for one more minute.  Add the roasted eggplant puree and cook until heated through and bubbly.  Add the 4 cups of chicken stock and 2 cups of water and bring to a boil.  While the liquids are heating, add a heavy pinch of salt, some black pepper, the garam masala and allspice. 

 Once the mixture is boiling, add the orzo and stir.  Reduce heat and simmer about 10 minutes, or until the orzo is done cooking.  Squeeze in a splash of lemon juice (about 2 teaspoons).  At this point, if the soup looks a bit thick (due to the starch from the pasta), add another 1/2 – 1 C of water.  Allow the soup to cool over low heat and when it is only slightly simmering, add the cream and stir to combine.  Salt and pepper to taste (in my experience, it required quite a bit of both salt and pepper to taste right).  Remove the bay leaf before serving.

 For anyone doing Weight Watchers, the total points for ingredients used is 22, and the recipe easily makes 4-6 good size servings. 

 

Eggplant Marinara (ripped from Rachael Ray)

1 roasted eggplant (roast whole in the oven, 400 degrees for 45-60 minutes)

1 big onion, diced

lots of garlic (3-4 cloves) finely chopped

2-3 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 large can crushed tomatoes

salt, pepper, italian herbs

grated parmesan

cooked pasta, long or short cuts

Start up the olive oil in the pan and once its warm, throw in the onions, and after the onions are softened, toss in the garlic and cook together. Scoop out the roasted eggplant once its slightly cooled and grind it up in a food processor. Throw it in with the cooked onions and garlic. Season everything with salt and pepper. Cook eggplant for 2-3 minutes, then add in the crushed tomatoes. Add more salt and pepper if necessary as well as the dried (or fresh) italian herb blend. Simmer together while you cook the pasta. Add to pasta with some cheese sprinkled on top.

This makes quite a load of sauce, so you’ll have lots of yummy leftovers!

 

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