Thursday, September 10, 2009

Footnote on Tomatoes

So I was sitting over a plate of Ramen noodles, trying to think of something else to write about and the Tomato Tales post got me thinking. (Of course, I could just write about Ramen noodles -- they're a health topic in themselves -- maybe another time...) There are SO many uses for tomatoes; I can't even begin to describe them all. But not too long ago I came up with a rather cool use for them that perhaps you might find interesting.

I don't know if I said, but I'm not much of a cook and when confronted with an ingredient that I'm not familiar with, I can get somewhat flustered. So I wasn't sure what to do one day when we had an eggplant that looked rather similar to the one above getting ready to go back on the kitchen counter. I don't know anything about eggplants (except that they seem like rather strange vegetables) and I didn't know what to do to make it edible...but it needed to be cooked and soon!

I went to our rather overabundant supply of cookbooks and fished out a classic called Joy of Cooking. I don't know if you're familiar with it, but if you're not you should definitely get it. It introduces you quite politely to each ingredient -- eggs, apples, eggplants, etc. -- and then gives several recipes for preparing them. After I read up on how I should treat this eggplant, I decided to fry it in slices.

But what to serve it with? The recipe suggested serving it with something (apparently eggplant is very plain when served alone and prefers company on the platter) and one of the suggestions was tomato slices. Wanting to do something more exotic than raw tomatoes, I hunted through to the tomato section of the cookbook and found a great recipe for Tomato Provencal.

Having combined the two recipes to my satisfaction, and obtained the good will of those who had to eat this concoction, I modified it and added it to my recipe collection. I have included it below in case you would like to try it. You will note there are no amounts listed; this is simply because there is no way I can know how much eggplant will need to be prepared and all the other amounts are dependant upon that. Suffice to say that the tomato will be in equal parts to the eggplant and all the other ingredients are to taste.

Eggplant Slices with Tomato Provencal

Olive or vegetable oil
Sweet Basil

Slice eggplant and tomato and drain on rack. Can rub or sprinkle eggplant with lemon juice to prevent discoloration if desired. Sprinkle eggplant lightly with salt; sprinkle tomato lightly with salt, sweet basil, garlic, and a very small amount of oregano, and drizzle with a little oil. Let tomato sit while starting to fry eggplant with oil, cornmeal, and parsley (don’t let frying pan get too hot). Next, place tomato on greased pan and broil in oven about 5 minutes, then bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Place eggplant slices on serving plate with tomato slices on top and serve hot. Allow at least 30-45 minutes to prepare.

I would like to add that this recipe is entirely vegan, but tastes delicious...very gourmet in my opinion. :-) If for some reason you have trouble with it, however, I do recommend that you get Joy of Cooking and work out the combination to your own liking.

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