Musical pairing – Where Does the Good Go? by Tegan and Sara
I’m willing to bet that I’m not the only one who’s ever spent a lot of time looking forward to a break only to find it whizz by all too fast, jam-packed with get-togethers and appointments, outings and trips. So was my spring break this year. No sooner had I arrived home in Cincinnati than I was swept off my feet with a veritable tidal wave of things to do and people to see. And though almost all of the things I had to do were enjoyable– seeing old friends, taking my sister to breakfast before her schoolday started, and trying a new Cincinnati restaurant that serves up solely the most delectable grilled cheeses and tomato soups– there was nonetheless a part of me that yearned to just be home in my own house, observing spring blossom outside of the window.
Thankfully, I got my wish on Wednesday. Home around lunchtime, I decided to take advantage of a full kitchen, not to mention the gorgeous jar of honey chock full of real honeycomb that I’d found sitting on the counter when I arrived home. Unsure of what I could do with the honey that was a bit more creative than drizzling it on oatmeal or yogurt, I cracked open Mark Bittman’s ‘How to Cook Everything Vegetarian’ and scanned the index for the special ingredient.
Aunt Debra and “Uncle Professor” themselves were the ones to give me Mark Bittman’s cookbook. Ever since I received it the Christmas after I became vegetarian, the giant green tome has been a constant companion and reference, helping me to produce tasty vegetarian meal after tasty vegetarian meal as well as inform me on more uncommon ingredients or unusual uses for common ones. Nor did Mr. Bittman fail me this time around! I found myself intrigued by a recipe for Sauteed Eggplant with Honey and Onions and eventually mixed the ingredients of this recipe with a technique for preparing eggplant that he listed in his general explanation of the vegetable.
Rather than the lengthy process of sauteeing the eggplant, Bittman suggested simply charring the eggplant in a cast-iron pan, slowly turning the vegetable until it was blackened but not burnt and the flesh had sunken. After this science-experiment-esque process I was very curious as to what I was going to find inside the flaky, black eggplant. To my slight surprise, the flesh was warm and creamy, soft and delicious. I simply put it on a plate, leaving the skin on, and topped with honey and onions sauteed with oil and garlic. The combination of flavors and textures was sophisticated to say the least, not to mention delectable. Furthermore, the “recipe” is flexible to the point of not even being a recipe at all– the eggplant prepared this way is also delicious topped with any variety of spices, as well as––in my slightly less than sophisticated opinion––ketchup.
So if you need a break––or a break from your break––try this eggplant technique and get creative with the toppings! And let me know what you find to be particularly successful, because I know I’ll be making this again next time I’m home sweet home.
DRY-PAN EGGPLANT W/ONIONS & HONEY
How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, Mark Bittman
- 3 or 4 small to medium eggplant, preferably slender ones (about 1.5 pounds total)
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 red or yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped (optional)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- Lemon juice to taste
- 2 Tablespoons Honey
- Place eggplant in a dry, heavy skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium heat. Cook, turning the eggplant as they blacken on each side and adjusting the heat so the skin darkens without burning, until the skin is blistered and black all over and the flesh collapses (you’ll be able to tell when this happens as the eggplant will soften considerably).
- Transfer to a cutting board and slit them lengthwise. Let cool until you can handle them, then transfer to a bowl and add ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil to the pan.
- Cook onion, garlic and pepper if using, in the oil until softened, about 10 minutes.
- Return eggplant to the mix along with salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste and 2 Tablespoons honey. Cook for another minute or so to heat through, taste and adjust seasoning; garnish with parsley and serve.