oil for roasting pan
2 eggplant; stem end removed, cut into 1″x3″ sections
2 Tablespoons coconut oil
1 onion; chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 stalk celery; chopped
1 carrot; chopped
3 cloves garlic; crushed
1 inch piece fresh ginger root; minced
1 Tablespoon balti seasoning
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 cup crushed tomatoes
(1 1/2 cups basmati rice; soaked and cooked)
Preheat oven to 350. Oil a large cast iron skillet or baking pan. Arrange eggplant in a single layer on the skillet/pan and roast for 30-45 minutes; until soft and beginning to get golden.
Meanwhile, preheat a large pot over medium-low heat. Add coconut oil, onion and salt. Cover and saute 5 minutes. Add celery, carrot, garlic and ginger; stir, cover and saute 5 minutes. Add the balti seasoning, turmeric and 1/4 cup water, stir and saute 5 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes stir and remove from heat until the eggplant is done.
Add the roasted eggplant and enough water to barely cover the eggplant, stir, cover and simmer several hours on very low heat.
I served this over basmati rice with a cucumber salad (see below) and a chop salad. Have hot pepper flakes on the side for those that want it spicy and salt and pepper to taste.
1 cucumber; thinly sliced into circles
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
pinch white pepper
2 Tablespoons fresh pressed lemon juice
Combine all ingredients, toss and set aside for 5 minutes. Toss and set aside for another 5 and repeat a few times. The salt will remove some water from the cucumbers and they will also be coated nicely with the tang of the lemon.
March 14, 2015 I started seeds indoors (nearly 6 weeks ago). Now, April 24th, you can see the progress. It is still too cold to plant these “babies” outside but by Memorial Day, my traditional planting weekend, they will be ready to go into my Connecticut garden. On warm sunny days the trays have gone outside to help harden them off. These past few days (and the foreseeable future) they will be indoors. Wow, it is a cold April.
2 weeks after planting my patience pays off: eggplants are up, peppers are popping, and the plastic is removed from the growing tomato plants.
I will continue to monitor plant trays daily to rotate as they reach for the light, water with a gentle mist when the soil begins to dry and remove the plastic once the plants reach and begin to bend against it.
The tomatoes and basil are popping up and reaching for the windows, their only source of light. In an effort to encourage them grow straight the trays need to be rotated daily. Each day when I check for new sprouts and the moisture of the soil I also rotate the trays 180 degrees. At this point (9 days after planting the seeds) most of the tomatoes are up and going, as are the basil, there is one eggplant that is just barely pushing at the earth and no sign of life in the pepper pots. The fact that the eggplant have begun is a good sign, they take longer to germinate than the tomatoes but not as long as the peppers. I anticipate the peppers to begin sprouting this weekend (2 weeks after planting). Until then- monitor daily, spray with water as needed and rotate the trays with sprouts.
Just when it seems spring will never get here, on a cold and rainy Saturday in March, I started my indoor plantings for this summer’s vegetable garden. Many vegetables benefit from going into the ground as plants rather than directly sowing seeds into the earth. I annually plant peppers, tomatoes, tomatillo, eggplant and basil indoors giving them the longer growing season they need. To do this yourself you will need a solid chunk of time. It took me 4 hours from set up to clean up (it may not take you as long, I plant many trays).
I lay down a tarp (an old sheet or towels will work just as well) in a generous area to be able to spread everything out. Setting up a space to work and establishing a system makes the process very efficient. I recommend getting the seed packets out and considering how many of each type of plant you will want in May to put into the ground. I always increase my amounts to be sure to have back ups for a variety of things that can go wrong along the way. Write the name of the vegetable variety on the end of a popsicle stick with a fine tip permanent marker. Be specific, don’t simply write tomato if you are planting several varieties. For example, I will be planting Italian Roma, Sweetie Cherry, Brandywine Red and Yellow. You can purchase small plastic pots (inexpensive and reusable), use peat pots (cheap and must be purchased every year) or make your own from small yogurt cups (free and reusable). If using yogurt cups drainage holes will need to be pierced into the bottom of each cup. I put the cup on a piece of scrap wood, hold a nail and hammer it to pierce the plastic in 3-4 different places.
Fill each planting cup with potting soil (I recommend organic) to just below the rim. Most potting soil is moist in freshly opened bags. If it isn’t, or you are using a bag previously opened water the soil to moisten. If a lot of water drains out into the catch tray, pour it out. Place the filled cups in a planting tray to catch draining water, make it easier to cover with plastic for the germination period and allow for easy transport of plants outdoors on warm sunny days and back in for the cooler nights. The planting trays I purchased years ago have started to develop holes (defeating their original purpose) but I use them to make carrying easier, I simply line them with large plastic salad bins. Another alternative is to put cups with holes inside a cup without a hole for individual catch trays.
Slide a labeled popsicle stick into the side of each cup.
Put 2-4 like kind seeds in each cup spreading them out evenly. Sprinkle a layer of soil on top of the seeds and gently press the layer of soil down. I usually just push the seeds down 1/8-1/4 inches below the surface with a finger and then gently compress the soil surface down. Mist with water to soak. Cover with plastic wrap and monitor daily. If the soil begins to dry out mist with water and recover otherwise leave the plastic intact. I recommend leaving the plastic on until the sprouts touch the plastic then remove the plastic and watch the soil carefully and mist to water as needed.
BE PATIENT, you won’t see the first sprouts for about a week. Peppers can take up to 2 weeks (especially in a space where the temperature is cool) so don’t give up.
STAY TUNED FOR THE NEXT STEPS in an upcoming post.
I served this stew with freshly baked bread. The traditional chicken paprikas served in my childhood home was served with dumplings, noodles or potatoes. Another classic Hungarian addition to this dish is sour cream dolloped on top. Pick your starch and enjoy a simple hearty stew. Add sour cream if you wish or keep it vegan as is. 2 Tablespoons canola oil
1 onion; diced
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 pepper; diced
2 cloves garlic; crushed
3 cups diced tomatoes
2 Tablespoons paprika
1 teaspoon marjoram
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
dash (+) cayenne pepper (optional)
1 eggplant; cut into bite sized pieces
1 cup fresh parsley; chopped
Preheat a large stockpot with a heavy bottom over medium heat. Add canola oil and onions, sprinkle with salt, cover and sauté, stirring occasionally for 2 minutes. Add peppers, stir, cover and sauté another 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic, tomatoes and spices, stir, cover and simmer until the tomatoes break up (about 8 minutes) stirring occasionally. Add the eggplant, stir, cover and bring to a simmer. Stir occasionally while the eggplant softens and absorbs the flavors in the pot (about 10 minutes). Remove from heat, add the parsley, stir and serve with your starch of choice.
Ratatouille can be served as a side dish (traditional) or over pasta as a meal. I served it over quinoa (gluten free) with fried tempeh making it into a hearty meal. Mozzarella is a nice option for vegetarians but not necessary for a satisfying meal.
4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 onion; diced
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1 Italian pepper; diced
3 plum tomatoes; diced
2 heirloom tomatoes; diced
1 eggplant; cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 zucchini; cut into 1/2 inch cubes
5 cloves garlic; crushed
1/2-1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
large handful fresh basil; chopped (or 2 Tablespoons dry)
Heat a large wide bottom cook pot over medium heat. Add olive oil, onion and salt, stir and cover. Stir occasionally until onions are tender and transparent, about 3 minutes. Add pepper, stir, cover and sauté another minute. Add remaining ingredients except basil and simmer with lid on stirring occasionally so the eggplant and zucchini begin to soften and break up. *this is a good time to start the fried tempeh* Simmer for 10 minutes or until the eggplant and zucchini are tender. Add the basil, stir and continue to simmer an additional 5 minutes.
*To prepare the friend tempeh (be sure to read the ingredients for gluten free, I get the soy and brown rice but there are tempeh varieties that have gluten in them so beware) preheat a large heavy bottom skillet over medium high heat. Meanwhile, cut tempeh into bite sized cubes. Pour a generous amount of extra virgin olive oil in the preheated pan, place the cubes in the hot oil and turn as the edges begin to brown and continue turning until all sides are crisp and golden. You may need to add more oil during the process as the tempeh absorbs the oil. Place pieces that are done in a shallow dish or on a plate to reserve for serving with the meal.*