Zucchini & Eggplant Stew
It's hard not to dream of sunny Provence when you try this dish, a delightful concoction of Mediterranean vegetables and seasonings.
Eggplant: preheat oven to 375. In a large bowl, toss the eggplant cubes with 1/2 C oil and salt; turn into a foil-lined baking pan. Cover pan and bake for 15 minutes, till eggplant is just soft and glistening (be careful not to overcook; it has more cooking yet to do). Set aside.
Zucchini, et al: Using the 2 T oil, sauté onion, zucchini, and peppers in a large skillet, adding more oil (or small amounts of chicken broth) if it becomes too dry. Cook 10-15 minutes, stirring and tossing, till vegetables are just soft. Add garlic and cook 3 more minutes (don’t let garlic burn). Add tomatoes, paste and remaining ingredients and simmer 10 more minutes. Add eggplant mixture to pot and simmer 10-15 more minutes. Serve at any temperature (it’s delicious warm, cold, or at room temperature).
* Using chicken broth cuts down on the amount of oil needed. Small amounts are wonderful for sauteing.
** Dill, not always thought of as a Mediterranean herb (although it grows there), adds a distinct brightness to this dish.
Tips & Glossary
Bouquet Garni: (boo-kay gar-nee) bundle of herbs tied together with string or wrapped in cheese cloth square; usually parsley, thyme, bay leaf, and peppercorns. Flavor is released during long cooking.Remove before serving.
Chervil: (sher-vil) related to parsley but has a delicate anise flavor. Long cooking kills flavor, so add at the last minute.
Cornichon (kor-nee-shon) teeny-tiny pickle, served with pates & smoked meats; found in specialty food stores.
Fines Herbes: (feen-airb) mix of finely chopped herbs: parsley, chives, tarragon, & chervil. Not as strong as a bouqet garni. Buy it at most grocery stores.
Fromage: (fra-mahj) Cheese! The French eat more than any nationality, 45 pounds per capita per year; and the country makes more cheeses than any other country, about 400.
Herbes de Provence (airb-duh-pro-vonce): mix of dried herbs, usually thyme, rosemary, marjoram, basil, & bay leaf Can be found at most grocery stores.
Mutarde: (moo-tard), mustard. Most famous:
Nicoise Olive: (nee-swaz- oh-leev) small, purplish-black olive with a mellow, nutty flavor; used primarily in Salade Nicoise. The Picholine variety is a green, medium-sized olive with a light, nutty flavor.
Roux: (roo) paste-like mix of melted butter and flour, into which liquid is gradually added. The basis of every classic French sauce.
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