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Mediterranean Eggplant with Onions & Peppers

December 7, 2011

There are people who are interested in the contents of other people’s medicine cabinets. Not me. Not even a passing curiosity. But ask me if I want to check out your veggie bin and I’m there. Who knows? There could be a terrific dish just waiting to be created.

What’s in your veggie bin right this second? Do you know without looking? Any science projects?

This is what was in my bin last week and the roasting/sauteing method of veggie prep suited the bill.

Inquiring Minds Want to Know

But first, a bit of performance art, if you will.

Squash-henge

I couldn’t help myself, these little squash babies needed their 3.6 seconds of fame.

the cast

Forgive me, I had to digress. For this dish, I decided to add in the little squash buddies; it’s a highly adaptable technique that works better than simply sauteing everything or steaming it all together. I’ve had ratatouille turn into a big pot of mush too many times when I do it (sorry, R.) so I shy away from doing it like that. This method results in veggies that are tender but still recognizable and I appreciate that in a veggie.

TECHNIQUE: ROAST/SAUTE METHOD

Use this when you want to create a vegetable “stew” but want to preserve the integrity of the veggies that you want to showcase. In this case, I want to play up the eggplant and the squash.

I roast them first, set aside and put them in the pot before finishing to heat through and mix in with the saute. If you’re not into peppers (hello, all my acid reflux friends!), simply saute onions with fennel. If you like, dice in a tomato (squeezing out excess  water). 


To roast veggies well, be sure to coat them very lightly in oil (I generally use olive or grape-seed oil). You can toss them around in the roasting pan. That’s very direct but I tend to use either too much or too little oil that way. You can toss them around in a large bowl but that means another bowl to wash and we don’t like that. And sometimes I go with my favorite method but warning: it’s not so pc: the cheap ziploc bag method. Throw the veggies in a bag with just enough oil to coat, add seasonings, close bag and jump up and down in your kitchen, thereby having fun, getting some aerobic exercise and coating your roasting veggies evenly all at the same time. Quite miraculous.

make friends with your seasonings

a happy medley

MEDITERRANEAN EGGPLANT WITH ONIONS & PEPPERS

adapted from Diana Shaw’s Almost Vegetarian

Makes 6 servings

1/4 c. plus 2 T. olive oil
4-6 Italian (or other small) eggplant, cut into bite-sized cubes
garlic powder to taste, or 1/2 t. –  if you crave an exact amount
2 large onions, white or brown, thinly sliced
2 fennel bulbs, stalks and fronds trimmed, thinly sliced
2 large red peppers, cored, seeded, and thinly sliced
2 large yellow/orange peppers, cored, seeded, and thinly sliced
2 t. whole fennel (AKA anise) seed (no, it’s not too much)
1 T. oregano, dried (yes, that’s a T. not a typo)
2 T. red wine (not an absolute but nice to add)
2T. balsamic vinegar
pinch of sugar
salt & pepper
1 T. chopped fresh Italian parsley – optional

TIPS: can add roasted zucchini/squash to eggplant or substitute it – if doing both, use greater eggplant to squash ratio. If too watery at end, spoon out a bit of liquid.

Pre-heat oven to 400° F.  Shake up veggies to be roasted in bag with 2 T. oil and seasonings -salt, pepper and garlic powder.

Spread eggplant (and squash) cubes in a single layer in a baking pan and roast until tender, 20-30 minutes. Stir once to prevent sticking.

In a Dutch oven (large heavy casserole with cover) or large saucepan, heat olive oil. Saute the onions, fennel, peppers and oregano and fennel seed over medium-low heat until vegetables are soft, about 30 minutes.

Add wine and balsamic vinegar and stir. Add a pinch of sugar if it seems a little sour. If you’re not a taster, omit the sugar and take your chances. Add the roasted veggies, cover and heat through for 5 minutes. Season with salt & pepper before serving. If you like, top with chopped parsley.

more eggplant

couldn’t stop making this dish – a larger version with eggplant

Serving Suggestions: Make it as a side, or over pasta, quinoa or grains.

Heat leftovers in skillet, break a few eggs, one at a time, in different sections of pan over the cooked veggies, cover to steam about 5 minutes (or until set to your liking), season and, Ta Da! Super Shakshuka! Great breakfast, brunch, light supper. What’s Shakshuka?? Stay tuned for a future post or do some sleuthing.

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5 Comments
  1. Wendy permalink

    Great recipe. I even just loved reading it!
    Thank you especially for giving the options of other ingredients for those of us who are sensitive to the peppers.

  2. Sweet blog. We seem to be somewhat related. By food love that is. I’ll send you my daughter who is moving to LA. If you feed her I promise she’ll keep you entertained. Check out my http://www.jitterycook.com blog and tell me we don’t see similarly.
    Best,
    Holly Botner aka Jittery Cook

  3. Jean permalink

    Judy, I love your veggie recipes as pot luck dishes. Your cauliflower dish was a big hit. Now I’ll try this one for a pot-luck on Monday night.
    Love, Jean

  4. Blanche permalink

    My stomach loves you. Blanche

  5. Jean permalink

    Judy, I finally made this, and served it over rice with Parmesan cheese on top for a complete meal. Delicious flavors and textures. A couple of cooking tips: The veggie cutting is labor intensive. I cut the veggies the day before and put them in the fridge in plastic containers with the seasonings and olive oil. Then did the roasting and sauteing on the second day. This kept me from too many hours in the kitchen. I often shake salads or veggies for roasting in a plastic Tupperware-like container with a small quantity of oil or dressing to cut down calories and cover all the veggies. It works every time.

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