Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Crockpots Aren't Just for Beef Stew, as this Delicious Eggplant Dish Proves

Right before it goes into the crockpot base

Crockpots aren’t just for pot roast (I never make), stews or soups.  In fact, a crockpot can render delicious vegetarian dishes.  This is a favorite dish for dinner.  Healthy, tasty and makes for great leftovers.

Note:  for the most flavor I always pan fry (even meat dishes) the ingredients first.  I want a 'main course' flavor not a boiled flavor.  This is not a requirement, but a personal flavor preference.  Even for meat dishes, I never just throw the meat into the crockpot.  Instead I always sear and pan fry first.  This process locks in the juices.

1 1/4 lbs eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes (about two medium eggplants)
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
1-2 cloves garlic (or more)
1 celery stick
1-2 red peppers diced
2-3 Tbs olive oil (or 365 expeller pressed canola oil)
 ½ cup. tomato sauce
2 cans of organic diced tomatoes (unflavored)
½  cup pitted ripe olives, cut in half
2 Tbs Balsamic vinegar
1 Tbs sugar
1 Tbs capers, drained
1 tsp dried oregano
.5-1.0 tsp. cumin powder
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbs. chopped dill (add right before serving)
1 tbs. coarsely chopped fresh cilantro or parsley at end
For protein, either add pan fried tofu (see other blog entry on how to) or crumbled pan fried seitan.

I have a crockpot that allows frying as well as cooking in the same insert (most don't-but this model doubles up as a dutch oven). 

Add 3-4 tbsp  oil (not extra virgin, but Bertolli Classico, or 365 expeller pressed canola oil)

Fry the onion for a few minutes, then add the eggplant, peppers (I added poblano this time) & celery and fry for at most 5 minutes.  Add the cumin and fry for one minute.  Remove from heat and insert into the crockpot base (or transfer to crockpot).

Add the garlic, tomato sauce and diced tomatoes- cover and cook on Low 3 1/2 to 4 hours or until eggplant is tender. Stir in olives, vinegar, sugar, capers and oregano. Season with salt and pepper (not much salt is needed-it’s already tasty). Cook for about 45 minutes (at this point add optional protein-tofu or seitan). Right before serving add dill and top off with cilantro.

This one is the plate for a Jager Schnitzel lover....but my non meat eating guests were happy too

Since one of the advantages of a crockpot is not having to ‘nurse’ the dish.  If you end up cooking the dish longer and only have 15-20 minutes to cook with the vinegar, tofu,  etc. it will not hurt the dish.

As any dish, this is very pretty flexible and the flavors can be altered. 

Because it’s a saucy dish, it tastes delicious the next day (or could be frozen-but when reheating frozen foods, always add a little extra spice to liven up the flavors).

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1 comment:

  1. Going to try a variation of this by adding some garbanzo beans for a protein overload.