While cooking professionally I worked in plenty of kitchens where meatless Fridays were observed. Friday Fish Frys and tuna salad were items that were prepared in huge quantities. Not being Catholic, I never quite understood the ritual of not eating meat on Fridays, but as a cook, I made the food that I was directed to prepare.
At the Deli, vast quantities of Tuna Salad were consumed. We were located in a catholic neighborhood and owned by Catholics. When working at the Brewery we could count on the owner, glass of beer in hand, laying down battered fish in the fryer. He was also a staunch Catholic.
While I’ve remained confused and uneducated about the abstinence and fasting rules, I am now cooking for people who observe the Season of Lent. This is a perfect opportunity to introduce them to 100% vegan food, and learn more about this religious observance. Every Friday I work on creating something new and interesting for them to try. And while the obligatory fried fish has to be cooked and served, they are at least willing to try the dishes I create that sort of fits into the Standard American Diet.
The recipe below is my most recent achievement. It combines onions, eggplant, tomatoes, and a few spices into a tasty stew that can then be served over rice or pasta.
In the directions, it says to salt and drain the eggplant. This helps to take away the inherent bitter flavor of the vegetable. This is a vital step in making a fabulous Eggplant Stew.
- 1 eggplant, peeled and cut into medium cubes
- 2 tbsp sunflower oil
- 1/2 red onion, diced small
- 1 tsp ginger, fresh, minced
- 1 tsp coriander
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp white pepper
- 1/2 tsp paprika (substitute cayenne)
- 2 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp mirin
- 1/2 tsp mustard seed (optional)
- 4-5 curry leaves (optional)
- 1 tsp agave syrup
- 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional-helps with acidity)
- 1 1/2 tsp sea salt
- Dice up the eggplant. Place in a colander and sprinkle with salt.
- Let drain for a half an hour or more. Rinse thoroughly and pat dry.
- Heat up a large saute pan. When hot, add in sunflower oil.
- Once the oil is hot, pour in onions and ginger. Saute until they soften then lower the heat to medium.
- Add coriander, cumin, white pepper, paprika, mustard seed, and turmeric.
- Stir and cook for a minute or two to blend the spices in with the onion mixture.
- De-glaze with the mirin.
- Pour in the diced tomatoes. Stir and cook for another minute or two.
- Now add in the eggplant. Stir until the eggplant is coated in the tomato mixture. Add the cinnamon if you are using it.
- Lower the heat. Cover and simmer for 12-15 minutes, or until the eggplant is soft.
- Serve over rice, with baked tofu, and your favorite bread.