Wednesday, March 7, 2012
So when I got home, of course I had a problem. I already had a big eggplant that had been in the fridge for a few days, and I was using up the last of another bag of spinach. What to do? I pored through books, wrote menus, considered the existing containers of this and that already in the fridge, and finally opted to make something up to use it all in one go.
This is a take on the Eggplant-potato moussaka with pine nut cream from Veganomicon. Much as I admire the Veganomicon, that particular recipe is problematic--you get too much pine nut cream, not enough vegetables, this, that, so I thought I'd just start building and see what worked.
The original recipe calls for brushing eggplant, zucchini, and potatoes with oil and broiling them separately before layering them into a casserole. However, I somehow have a problem with this process, don't ask me why; you'll rarely see here a dish where I have to broil slices of anything. Well, okay, I'll tell you why. You cut the slices too thick and they don't cook through; cut them too thin, and they shrivel to burnt shreds of nothing. Run up to check your e-mail and forget about them for a minute or two, and your house fills with smoke, or worse. Besides, with broiled eggplant slices, especially from the big eggplants, no matter how fresh they are the skin turns out tough and horrible and you end up gagging on strings of skin or pulling them indelicately out of the finished dish on your plate...not that they're even especially delicious, 'cause they're not. For taste and texture, you're better off broiling the eggplant whole. But then it turns all soft and gloriously mushy and you can't slice it.
Enter the revolutionary technique of steaming. It takes just a fraction of the time of broiling; the slices look good even after they're steamed, and are buttery soft and cooked perfectly through, even the skins. Yes, it's true. And there's no smell, no smoke, no crusty burnt pans to deal with afterwards. So, I steamed them--one whole eggplant, enough small potatoes to cover the bottom of the steamer, and a big bunch of spinach. I elected not to use zucchini this time.
While that was happening, I prepared some Indian-spiced tomato sauce by pureeing some leftover Indian tomato-onion condiment-type thing with some leftover canned tomatoes--the little leaves you see below are curry leaves which the immersion blender didn't pick up. No matter. I lined my 9" x 9" pan with parchment paper just to see what would happen (don't bother) and spread a little of the sauce at the bottom:
Add a layer of sliced steamed potatoes:
...a layer of tender steamed eggplant:
...a layer of leftover Vegan Brunch omelet mix with a little chaat masala sprinkled on top to compliment the tomato sauce:
...one more layer each of tomato sauce, eggplant and potatoes, and top with half a recipe of pine nut cream:
Cook at 350F for about 45 minutes, until golden:
Let it cool to room temperature before slicing:
Stu-pendous! It's good cold, too. And the best part is, you could switch out pretty much all of the ingredients depending on what you had in the fridge--how about sweet potatoes, zucchini, and kale with a thin layer of mango chutney or some other spicy sauce in there; or mushrooms, slices of marinated tofu, mashed potatoes, and chopped broccoli?
One question: have any of you ever tried making this kind of pine nut cream with cashews or almonds? I'm tempted to try it. The recipe as is is great, for texture, but I find that for pine nuts I really have to be in the mood...