Friday, October 14, 2011

Eggplant and Mushrooms Sautéed

EggplantImage via Wikipedia

I just made an incredible discovery! Eggplant and mushrooms go together as if they were made for each other! If you cook mushrooms in a skillet, I'm sure you've noticed they release water as they cook.

If you cook eggplants you're confronted with the problem that eggplants will burn before they're cooked unless you use oil - frying them in deep oil is best to ensure they don't go dry on you. And anyone who's tried to grill eggplant slices in order to avoid all that oil (and all the calories!) will agree with me: okay, your eggplants are cooked in a calorie-less way, but boy do they taste dry!!

The solution? Simple, cook mushroom and eggplant slices together in the same skillet! The water released by mushrooms is absorbed by the eggplants (they really drink it up, real sponges!) and the two cook together at the same time and reach a perfect point of softness! I did notice that it tended to dry up towards the end, so in the last 5 minutes you're well advised to drop in a few pieces of peeled tomatoes - fresh and very red.

Et voilà, perfect vegetables to accompany grilled meat, in particular chicken or pork. Super simple to prepare and delicious. Being soft, they add just what's necessary to your grilled and sauce-less meats...

Ingredients for 4
  • 2 eggplants peeled and sliced - if the eggplants are market-bought, it is advisable to sprinkle the slices with salt at least 1/2 hour to ensure that the bitter liquid in them comes out; pat them dry with a paper towel  
  • 2 cups of raw sliced mushrooms (you can often find packages already prepared at the supermarket)
  • one medium-sized tomato, very red, peeled and cubed or a dozen cherry tomatoes, sliced in two and no need to peel them
  • one tablespoon of vegetable broth in powder  (Knorr is a good brand)
  • one tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste 

1. Warm up a broad skillet or frying pan with a little olive oil and when it's hot put in the slices of mushrooms and eggplants together. The fire has to be medium-high.

2. Sprinkle the powdered Knorr broth over the vegetables, salt and pepper. Careful with the salt because you've already got the Knorr broth in there.

3. It will take about 10 minutes to cook. Better stir to avoid burning. Before it actually burns (!), add the tomatoes in pieces: they will release just enough juice to ensure the cooking is finished without damage to the vegetables.

NOTE: I checked on Internet, there are plenty of recipes for eggplant and mushroom casseroles but all of them include onion, garlic, herbs, even cheese and eggs. Of course you can add all these ingredients but the result won't be the same.
(1) eggplants have a very mild, subtle taste and onions etc don't improve them - in fact such strong ingredients tend to overpower them in my humble opinion;
(2) cooking the eggplants separately - or even as in some recipes, frying them - defeats the purpose: the idea is that the liquid released by mushrooms as they cook helps in turn cook the eggplants.


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