Ah, the eggplant. To quote Mark Bittman in his book, The Best Recipes in the World, "There is nothing like a simply cooked dish of eggplant. One of the world's most beloved vegetables and one that several cuisines--Italian, Turkish, and Indian, most notably--treat with near reverence."
Polenta is my comfort food. And I really, really like a heaping, steaming bowl topped with stewed veggies. Luckily, I really didn't have to do much other than recreate Bittman's recipe from that same book. You can go wrong with Bittman, right? And I also couldn't go wrong with eggplant. I only tweaked it a little, tiny bit by using some slightly, almost-caramelized onions as a base of the sauce. It worked splendidly.
Stewed Eggplant and Tomatoes with PolentaMakes 4 servings
adapted from The Best Recipe in the World
For polenta:5 cups water
1 cup stone ground coarse cornmeal (polenta)
For stewed eggplant and tomatoes:1/4 cup olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 tablespoon finely minced garlic (about 4-5 cloves)
1.5 lbs. eggplant, diced (I used some purple and some orange)
One 28 ounce can diced tomatoes in juice or puree (can use 2-3 cups fresh diced tomatoes)
Fresh basil leaves, for garnish
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the polenta:Bring the water to a rapid boil in a 3-4 quart pot. Add the salt and polenta. Lower heat and cook, stirring often, for about 30 minutes or until very thick. The polenta will start coming away from the sides of the pan. Remove from heat and stir in olive oil or butter. Taste and add more salt, if needed. Transfer to a serving bowl or casserole dish.
For stewed eggplant and tomatoes:In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the onion, season with a little sea salt and cook, stirring frequently until the onion turns golden and softens, about 10-15 minutes. Add the garlic next and cook for 1 minute, or until fragrant. Next add the eggplant. Season again with a sprinkle of sea salt. Cook, stirring often until eggplant starts to turn golden. Add the tomatoes last and bring to a low simmer. Cook until the sauce starts to thicken and the flavors have melded, about 10-15 minutes. Keep warm until ready to serve.
To serve:Spoon some of the polenta into a serving bowl and top with the stewed eggplant and tomatoes.
Makes about 4 good-sized servings.
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