STUFFED EGGPLANT WITH FARRO, GINGER AND POMEGRANATE

 

Eggplant with Farro, Ginger and Pomegranate-0637

I returned from Istanbul a few weeks ago with an eggplant monkey on my back.  During those brief periods in Turkey when I wasn’t stuffing myself with baklava, I was slavering over Turkish eggplant.  The aubergine highlight of my travels was a braised veal shank wrapped in eggplant, a dish so meltingly tender than it was difficult to tell from texture alone where the eggplant ended and the meat began.  The ubiquity of cooked eggplant in Turkey isn’t duplicated in this country and an eggplant lover must sometime fall back on his own devices.  Stuffed Eggplant with Farro, Ginger and Pomegranate is not nearly so complicated as the veal shank I ate, but it is tender, and so deeply satisfying that the absence of meat in the recipe seems irrelevant.

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Eggplant, Pepper and Tomato Gratin

Eggplant, Pepper and Tomato Gratin-1

Gratin typically brings to mind a rich and cheesy dish of root vegetables (pronounced by all American children to rhyme with “all rotten”).  Nutritional guilt over this fat fest drives food bloggers to frantic rearrangements of their refrigerator poetry magnets into epithets like “a holiday indulgence” and a “once in awhile treat.”  But in the Adams-Rivard kitchen we scoff at a such reservations.  We eat gratins when we feel like it, whether Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny is joining us for dinner or not. Thank God for bicycles.  Which offers me a segue into this week’s dish, Eggplant, Pepper and Tomato Gratin.  While pedaling through Provence a month ago we couldn’t help but notice how much lighter a Provencal gratin is than its Gerard Depardieu-like cousins to the north.  The cream had vanished, along with much of the cheese, both supplanted by olive oil, bread crumbs, and fistfuls of crushed herbs.  Olive oil, we were reminded, transforms the flesh of vegetables into something unctuous.  Caramelization is the gilding on the lily.

Burnt-Wheat Pasta – Cavatelli with Tomato-Eggplant Sauce and Ricotta Salata

Making your own shaped pasta like cavatelli or orecchiette (as versus rolling out noodles) is so gleeful, so hilariously liberating, that I can only compare it to being a little kid running naked down the street hollering, “Look at me!  Look at me!”  It’s just that great.  Er… what?  You never ran outside naked as a kid?  Really?  Never?  Well, sounds to me like somebody’s got some serious catching up to do.  No, don’t take your clothes off–we’re all adults now–the naked-in-the-street developmental train left the station some time ago.  But that’s okay–you can still make Homemade Cavatelli with Tomato-Eggplant Sauce.  You don’t believe me now, but if you share the joy and invite a friend to help, a friend with a bottle of wine, after seeing each other’s first dozen cavatelli, hilarity will ensue.  Nobody’s cavatelli are bad–some are just different–and you do get better, fast.  

Simple Sauce, Simple Eggplant Parmesan

This post had so many potential titles–Deep Purple, Heart of Darkness, Purple Monster–all inspired by this week’s recipe of Simple Eggplant Parmesan, and the challenge of photographing dark eggplants.  My favorite was from the great American writer Annie Proulx, who once depicted a character’s nocturnal torment as a “descent into an aubergine nightmare.” An aubergine nightmare.  …