We’re economizing this month due to a new addition to the household. More on his kennel coughing ways due imminently, perhaps after the weekly vet visits cease. I’m not great at sticking to a strict budget for food, but I’m making an effort. Hence, the kilo of sale eggplants that came home with us this week.
Due to my extensive list of allergies, there is really very little I won’t eat. For a long time eggplant was up in the top three, along with cetaceans and dog. I’m not sure what ur-memory turned me off, but it’s one of the few non-poisonous things I consistently balk at. Milk and dal-laden sambar taste disgusting and leave me in agony. Eggplant was just… yucky. I made a few stabs at it at in California, as it’s a favourite vegetable for the grill-a-thon we celebrate 10 months out of 12. But no matter how well salted and soaked and prepared, I was always put off by the bitter, used-sock taste and wet paper texture.
All that changed has changed. I’ve been making small stabs at defeating the dread aubergine. I discovered roasting and pureeing. I cooked baingan bharta, as almost every vegetable tastes good drowned in a gingery, garlicky curry. I couldn’t bear the thought of rice again tonight though, and there were the dredges of a jar of capers in the fridge begging to be used.
Eggplant (Aubergine) Caponata with Peppadews
3 medium eggplants, roasted and peeled
1 onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced (I used green–another bulk bag buy. Would recommend sweeter reds if available)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tomato, chopped
1-2 tbsp capers
6-8 hot Peppadew peppers (do not dry!)
2 tbsp tomato paste
Red chili, chopped, to taste
Fresh basil for serving
Using a foil-lined baking sheet, roast eggplant at 200c, turning once, until it has collapsed in on itself, approximately 45 mins. Be sure to puncture them with a fork! Cool, remove skin and chop. Puree the eggplant, tomato, and a handful of olives (10 – 12, depending on taste) and set aside. Mince the capers and Peppadews together and set aside, keeping some of the vinegar from the Peppadews. Saute the onions in olive oil until softened. Add garlic and chili, cook for one minute, followed by bell pepper and more oil if needed. Cook until bell pepper has softened, but not lost its bite. Add eggplant and caper mixtures, combine. Mix in tomato paste. Add in Peppadew vinegar to taste. Let simmer on low to let flavours marry. Garnish with torn fresh basil to serve.
I find the combination of briny condiments was more than adequate to provide salt for the dish, and I used red chili for heat. The Peppadews brought a lovely sweetness, but could be swapped out if using a sweeter bell pepper and vinegar. TMM, who is usually not a fan of my vinegary snacks (he’ll readily avoid being between me and a jar of gherkins) really enjoyed the caponata over pasta. I think I also scored a few points for the Peppadews.
In other news, the basil plant has survived for over a month due to the careful ministrations of TMM. I’ve found the best way to keep plants alive is to tell him when they look “wilty.” I’m in charge of feeding the dog and husband who are both doing just fine, but obviously that doesn’t translate well into the care and feeding of thing with leaves.