Purple Haze 2
So, a little bit of background. I wouldn't call myself a novice cook, exactly, but I'm squarely in the apprentice stage. The thought of pastry makes me a little wobbly, for example. But I've always loved reading about -- and eating -- really good food. When I moved east this summer, I left most of my possessions in storage, including nearly all my kitchen equipment. Naturally, I then decided it was time to get serious about learning to cook. I would master the spatula! I would conquer the double boiler!
There's a lot out there. The other night I rolled up my sleeves and tackled eggplant.
Since I've only recently discovered I like eggplant (thanks, L.), I felt this was a modestly adventurous choice. My encounters with the glossy purple globes had previously been limited to a surreptitious poke or two in the produce section. (When I was nine, honest!)
I'm currently wandering through Jack Bishop's Pasta e Verdura, not only because the recipes are generally quick to throw together, but also because Dimples is leery of vegetables but fond of pasta. I found adorable little eggplant at the Union Square Greenmarket (love!), so Roasted Eggplant with Tomatoes and Fresh Herbs sounded like a good start.
The kittens swiped an eggplant when my back was turned (two seconds!), and so were banished after a madcap chase around the apartment. Naturally, pouting ensued. With the purloined eggplant regretfully tossed out (how did they manage to shred it so quickly?), I brushed the remainder lightly with olive oil, roasted them at 400 degrees until their skins wrinkled, then peeled and chopped them. Unpeeled, the roasted eggplants were charmingly burnished, but peeled, they sulked on the cutting board, oozing glumly. I may be projecting a little here. I followed the tomato sauce instructions (saute an onion for five minutes; add garlic and saute a little longer; add chopped tomatoes and their juice), then added the chopped eggplant and fresh oregano. Simmered for twenty minutes, added basil, salt, and a good grinding of pepper, and poured the resulting reddish-beige goo over rigatoni. Finishing touch was a sprinkling of grated goat cheese, another Greenmarket find.
Dimples devoured his, but I found the sauce only slightly more flavorful than unadulterated tomato sauce. I had hoped for a smokier, more overt eggplant punch, but this left only a vaguely roasted flavor on the back of my tongue. Not bad, but.
Next: I confront my fears of roast chicken inadequacy.