Sunday, September 11, 2005

Roast and Two Veg Sunday

Let me begin by saying that this title does not mean that I have reverted to my long-long-ago omnivorous ways. No, the roast in question refers to the roasted eggplant (and more than two veg) in the stew recipe I tested this evening.

I've mentioned before what delight I took in reading Local Flavors. Between the rapturous descriptions of farmers' markets, tempting recipes, and gorgeous photos, how could I not be completely enthralled? And how could I pass up sampling some of those dishes?

Since I had eggplant leftover from last week's market, roasted red peppers in the fridge, and the remaining vegetables from this week's market (as well as a tomato and some basil from my own garden), I was at last ready to make the Roasted Eggplant and Chickpea Stew.

The vegetables in this dish are all cut into large slices and chunks, so the prep time is negligible (unless you're roasting peppers on the spot instead of making them ahead of time). Even the herb puree that gets tossed with the veggies takes almost no time to mix.

But don't think that this is a dish you can throw together at the last minute for unexpected company. Once everything is combined in the casserole dish, you add a little water, cover it, and let it braise in the oven for a full hour and a half.

That's right -- no fast food here. This dish takes its sweet ol' time to simmer and soften and smell divine. Take this hour and a half to weed the garden, take a long bath, write a novel.

Then be prepared for a rich, fragrant stew of tender, mellow vegetables. I had a big salad beforehand (my stomach started grumbling about half an hour into the cooking time... what else was I to do?) and then slipped a little reheated brown rice under the stew, making it the perfect meal to herald the coming autumn...

And the perfect meal to round out an active weekend.

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