Sunday, August 27, 2006
Caucasian Eggplant Caviar
Better Homes and Gardens Heritage Cook Book Copyright 1975
1 large eggplant ( 1 ½ to 2 pounds) my eggplant was only about 14 oz
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup finely chopped green pepper
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 6-ounce can tomato paste I used Del Monte organic - make sure you use a good one!
1 ½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon pepper
Assorted crackers I tried this on whole wheat Ritz crackers
Cook whole eggplant in boiling water till tender, about 25 minutes. (This is not easy - eggplants float!) Cool; peel and finely chop. In medium skillet cook onion and green pepper till tender but not brown. Add tomato paste, salt and pepper. Simmer 5 minutes. Add chopped eggplant; simmer, uncovered, 30 minutes, stirring often. ( I only cooked it about 20 minutes.) Add more oil if it sticks. Chill. Serve with crackers.
Makes 2 ½ cups.
I've been eyeing recipes for eggplant caviar for years. It's just one of those things that I've inexplicably haven't made. I bought a deep-colored eggplant at the auction last Friday, planning on experimenting with the Eggplant with Crispy Coating recipe. However, when I saw this recipe, I changed my mind and decided it was finally time to make eggplant caviar. We've been suffering from a dearth of good snack foods around our house.
This is a very bare bones recipe, which is exactly what appealed to me. I just needed to pick up a green pepper and some tomato paste and I was good to go. It was a bit of a perplexing recipe, as tomato paste isn't exactly a liquid that simmers, but I persevered and I was happy with the results. I didn't add any more oil so this was light for an eggplant dish. The caponata recipe from Entertaining With The Sopranos has been on my to-make list but it calls for the eggplant to be fried in oil. That scares me, eggplant being the sponge that it is.
Tomato paste is very rich in lycopene, a powerful antioxidant. In fact, I've read that the lycopene in tomato paste is more readily absorbed by the body than lycopene in fresh tomatoes. Usually tomato paste is not consumed in great quantities - more often, it's a minor ingredient in recipes. This time it's the star of the show, perfect for Sweetnick's ARF/5-A-Day Tuesday. Just be sure to use a good tomato paste in this, obviously.
I really enjoyed this. My final product was heavier on tomato than it probably should be because I only bought one puny eggplant but I liked the strong tomato flavor. I even tasted it without a cracker just to be sure I gave it a fair review since, we all know, everything tastes better sitting on a Ritz.
Question of the Day: What do you like to put on a Ritz?