Monday, December 3, 2007

Eggplant Spiced North Indian Style, Baked Macaroni Bolognese

Those who know me know that I am essentially a lazy cook. I cook from scratch, but I take short cuts and I prefer things that can be left to cook themselves while we relax a bit before the meal. It helps if they can be kept warm on stovetop or in the oven (crockpot too) while we have our salad course.

These two meals were easy for me - and for that reason I'm likely to have them on the menu again and again.


I thought a bit about what to call this dish - it originated as one of Madhur Jaffrey's in her Eastern Vegetarian Cooking. However, I adjusted the seasoning quite a bit so that it probably violates the whole idea of naming it after any region. In additiion, I made it for two persons, which always messes with a recipe (you can rarely just cut a recipe by two-thirds anyway, and I didn't), and of course I omitted any added fat/oil, as per usual, and omitted the salt. The proportions of spices were adjusted to suit our taste (and to compensate for the lack of salt). The method and the seasonings changed, that's what :) but the eggplant and onion stayed. The results were very pleasing to us. Here's my renamed version.

1 lb eggplant, cubed (I left mine unpeeled - looks so pretty that way)
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
salt to taste, if used

I put all ingredients except for the lemon juice into a large skillet (I can see what's happening better that way) and stirred over medium-high heat with enough water to keep it all from burning, allowing the spices to get thoroughly mixed through and to coat the vegetables. Then I added around half a cup of water, covered, and lowered the heat for around 20 minutes to half an hour - well, it might have been a little longer - until the eggplant was cooked through but not mushy. Stirring every now and then helps - and it lets you keep any eye out to add more liquid if it looks as if it's going to burn. During one of those stirrings I added the lemon juice.

When done - and you know how you like your eggplant to be - taste for seasonings (you might have wanted salt, so add a little more if necessary).

Serve with brown rice and whatever salad-like things please you. Indian accompaniments would be best, but it's a versatile dish. Lovely way to take your veggies!!!

The next one is a really lazy dish -


Yesterday I was stuck for ideas, so I thought why not just re-run Saturday's lunch - spaghetti bolognese (or is that 'bolognaise'? Never mind!). I had made this from mushrooms and tvp plus all the usual suspects required for a good tomato pasta sauce. It had been very good. You can find the recipe HERE - except this time I had lots of mushrooms and therefore used more.

I cooked some quinoa macaroni (love that stuff!) - or I should say I deliberately undercooked it - while I reheated the bolognese sauce and added a little more tomato paste and stock along with another half dozen or so quartered mushrooms, jazzing it up with more chilies and more nutritional yeast - this dish was not going to be boring! I then mixed together the sauce and macaroni, saving a little sauce for the top, and dumped it into a casserole.

As you see I also added a cheezy crumb topping and paved the surface with some sliced mushrooms. Lightly covering with some aluminum foil, it went into the oven (375 F) for around half an hour then spent a little time with its cover off while we had our salad. Easy. (Okay, so it was just 'leftovers' - but it was still good and still easy! LOL)


VeggieGirl said...

hey, there's nothing wrong with quick, easy meals - all that matters is if they taste good! :0)

mmm, the eggplant dish and the baked macaroni bolognese (I'm not sure of the correct spelling either, haha) look fabulous!! yum!!

River said...

Oh I love anything that can be cooked in one pan - and if it can go in the oven it's even better (except in summer!). But I do make a point of cooking from scratch - using cans/jars only for things like artichoke hearts (out of season), tomatoes (all the time - just in case), roasted red peppers (for emergencies), and condiments. That kind of thing. But it's amazing how many meals can be thrown together in a hurry and taste grrrrrrreat!

You like eggplant too, huh? Very versatile fruit!

Love and hugs.