Here’s a quick patch for your winter woes. The next time you find yourself in the midst of a cold rainy day, knocked for half a loop by some stray virus and in need of sustenance, let me recommend my lunch today. I couldn’t decide whether I felt too terrible to cook, or too terrible not to. Naturally, cooking won out, aided by my discovery, in the recesses of the fridge, of two perfect roasted eggplants that I’d had the foresight to prepare some days ago, and then promptly forgot about.
Eggplant is a most forgiving vegetable, and having a roasted eggplant in the fridge is an open invitation to something delicious. And with garlic being the firewall of the vegetable kingdom, I’d even go so far as to say that having two small, sweet, last of the season pre-roasted eggplants in the fridge and a heap of pungent new garlic on the counter is a cure for pretty much any bug. Here’s all you need to do:
2 small fresh eggplants
2 T butter
4 large cloves garlic
2 T double concentrated tomato paste (from a tube)
Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C. Set the whole, unpeeled eggplants on a baking tray and roast them until they’re soft and collapsed-looking, 30-45 minutes, depending on your eggplants. Next you can either let them cool until you can handle them, or put them in the fridge and finish the dish another day, possibly after you’ve caught the first winter cold that’s going around.
Peel the eggplants, scoop out the insides, and discard the skins. Cut the eggplant into large bite-sized chunks, as it’s going to shrink and smoosh as you cook it further. Peel and roughly chop the garlic. Melt the butter in a sauté pan and add the eggplant and garlic. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant is golden and the garlic is tender, about 8-10 minutes. Add the tomato paste and stir until the paste is evenly distributed throughout the eggplant and has also browned a bit. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
I served this over quinoa scented with ras el hanout, with some sinus-clearing harissa on the side, but you can feel free to eat it according to the state of your pantry, with pasta, as part of a composed salad, or even as a sandwich spread. And honestly, I think butter is better here than olive oil, just in case you were thinking of substituting. But I know how you are. If you feel that you absolutely must change something about this recipe, add more garlic!