Sunday, November 22, 2009

A farewell to eggplants

You can tell something's up with the climate these days.  The basil plant in my window box really shouldn't be thriving in late November, and tomatoes and eggplants shouldn't still be showing up in the market stalls, should they? But they are.  And while we've had a few chilly days, today was downright balmy.  I'm not complaining, although I do hope we can avoid a global catastrophe.

At any rate, here's one last summer vegetable recipe.  It's adapted from an eggplant and quinoa grain recipe I found in a wonderful vegetarian cookbook by Garance Leureux (Ma cuisine végétarienne pour tous les jours).  I was put off by the idea of boiling eggplants at first (didn't boiling go out of style with polyester slacks?), but it turns out that the water from the eggplants gets soaked up by the quinoa (or in this case bulgur), so the end product is not watery but firm and delicious.

Eggplant and bulgur gratin

2 large eggplants
2 medium onions
2-3 small tomatoes
fresh basil, parsley
200g coarse bulgur wheat

1) Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.  Slice the eggplants into half-inch rounds and plunge them into the boiling water, placing a heat-proof bowl or heavy baking dish on top to keep them submerged.  Boil for 5 to 8 minutes, or until the eggplant is tender.  Drain the eggplants and then place them in a bowl to keep them from drying out too much.

2) During this time, cut a small X in the skin of each tomato and dip them into the boiling water for about 30 seconds.  Peel the skin from the tomatoes and chop them coarsely.

3) Coarsely chop the onions.  Heat a little olive oil over medium-high in a saucepan and add the onions; cook for 2 minutes or until translucent.  Add the bulgur wheat, the chopped tomatoes, and 3/4 cup of water. Bring to a boil and then turn the heat down.  Add the crumbled tofu and allow to cook over low heat for about 5 minutes.

4) Place a layer of eggplant slices across the bottom of a lightly oiled baking dish, and cover this with a layer of the bulgur mixture.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and torn fresh basil leaves (or other herbs).  End with a thin layer of bulgur wheat or with slices of tofu, if desired.  Bake the casserole for about 20 minutes at 400°F (200°C).  The wheat under the eggplant should be tender (but still al dente), and the top should be browned.

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