Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Eggplant and Cumin Rice

As I was planning our meals for the week, I was looking for something new to try out.  We had eggplant on sale at our local market, so I searched for a recipe containing eggplant and rice.  Well, I came across a recipe on cooks.com, that I have adapted to be allergen-free (and I added a couple special touches just to personalize it a bit).  It sounded interesting, but worth a shot, as I love cumin (and the other ingredients-just wasn't sure about mixing them all together!)  

But first, a side note about eggplant:  I first fell in love with eggplant at a local Italian restaurant- I had it grilled on a "build your own pizza".  The first time I tried to cook with it, I was disappointed.  It tasted funny and was somewhat bitter.  Well, I found a really great Italian cookbook, and I picked up this tip once when I cooked Spaghetti alla Norma (spaghetti w/fried eggplant): Slice or cube the eggplant, and place it on a cutting board at an incline...sprinkle it with salt, and the bitter juices will run off...like so:
I just used a rolled up kitchen towel under the cutting board and placed it right next to the sink so as not to make a mess.  Leave it for about 30 minutes or so...that should do the trick.

Here's the recipe:
1 medium eggplant, peeled, cubed and salted
about 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
Salt and fresh ground pepper (I used Kosher salt)
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 can 15 oz of diced fire roasted tomatoes
2 cups uncooked brown rice
1 tablespoon of ground cumin
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup water

Preheat oven to 375.  Heat olive oil in an oven-proof stock pot, and add eggplant, onion and red pepper.  
Add fresh ground pepper to taste.  Cook until the veggies get somewhat tender like this:

Add fire roasted tomatoes, rice, cumin, broth and water.  Bring to a boil, then cover and place in the oven.  Bake for about 35-40 minutes.  Stir the rice mixture, serve and enjoy. 

It looks like this after you serve your family and then remember to take a picture ;)

I was really pleased with how this turned out...and I'm not sure which culture to thank for this particular combination of flavors...perhaps it originated somewhere in the Middle East???  Anyway, it's a really good meatless dish, and so filling and flavorful you don't even miss the meat.   A wallet and waist-friendly meal! 

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