Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Vegetarian Substitutions

Although this blog will mostly track food made in a dorm kitchen, right now it's blissfully summer.  At home, I have much more access to vegetables and cooking equipment and consequentially, am somewhat more experimental with main dishes.  This dish is modified from a lovely recipe on Crumb Blog.   

Last Saturday my family went to the farmer's market, and I spotted baby eggplants.  With the confidence of a misremembered recipe, I asked my mum to purchase some.  I came home to the realization that the stuffed eggplants called for ground lamb and bell peppers among other things, which we did not have.  Also, I don't eat most meat.  Hmmm.  Well, changes are an essential part of life, as my genetic engineering professor last spring proclaimed over and over. The following recipe uses leftover rice instead of lamb and omits a bunch of other delicious-but-currently-unavailable ingredients, like pine nuts and feta cheese. 

I do wish I had taken more photos of the process, because the rice looked quite beautiful and colorful.  If I make this dish again I will add more photos, when I'm not rushing to get it on the table.  I still wound up microwaving it for 3 minutes after it came out of the oven, but that's probably because I only baked the eggplants for 20 rather than 30 minutes.  The original recipe calls for 25-30 minutes in the oven.

4 baby eggplants (3-4" long)
Oil for saute and brushing on eggplants
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 or 3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup cooked rice
1 plum tomato, diced
Black pepper for seasoning

Cutting board
Chef's knife
Plate large enough to hold 8 baby eggplant halves
Paper towel
Frying pan
Frying spatula
Baking pan large enough to hold 8 baby eggplant halves

1. Cut each eggplant in half lengthwise.  Scoop out the insides, leaving a shell approximately ½" thick.  Rub the inside of each shell with salt and leave upside down on the towel on the plate.  Chop the insides roughly and set aside.

2. Heat the oil in the frying pan and saute the onion until soft.  Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375°F.

3. Toss in the garlic and saute until the garlic starts to get a little golden.

4. Toss in the rice and eggplant pieces and cook until rice doesn't stick together and eggplant is soft.  Turn the fire off, then toss in the tomatoes.

5. Season with black pepper and maybe a little salt, to taste.

6. Arrange the eggplant halves in the baking dish and spoon the rice into the eggplants.  You'll probably end up with a little extra rice.  It makes an excellent snack or lunch or something.  Put the dish into the oven and bake for about 30 minutes.

It will more or less look like this :) Maybe a little less pink.

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