January 15, 2012

From the Freezer, With a Recipe for Eggplant Sauce with Tomato

Last month, when I headed down to the root cellar to get some cabbage for dinner, it inspired me to write a blog post about my storage room in the cellar, which you can see here. The vegetables that keep in a cool cellar – potatoes, carrots, beets, cabbage – are only a portion of my winter eating. Onions, garlic, and winter squash are stored in an unheated spare bedroom. The largest variety of fruits and vegetables from my garden are stored in my small chest freezer, kept in the mudroom. There are the bags of greens – kale, spinach, and swiss chard – the peas, beans, broccoli, peppers, tomatoes, corn, zucchini, tomato sauce, pesto. And fruit: raspberries, blueberries, rhubarb. A frozen cornucopia, which takes a lot of work, to be sure: the picking and blanching and tray freezing and packing into bags (never mind the tending the garden). But to me it's worth it, so that I can have my own organically grown food all year long.

I also have fried eggplant in the freezer, ready for use in sauce and eggplant parmesan. I learned from my mother how to preserve eggplants this way. I fry the slices, drain them on paper towels, then pack them in a plastic box layered on sheets of waxed paper. Since eggplant is one of my favorite foods, it's a treat to have it on hand to make this delicious pasta sauce, from Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. The broccoli is from my garden, as are the tomato and eggplant, even the red chili pepper (I grow Early Jalapeno). I cook the broccoli by braising it with garlic in a frying pan.

I love gobs of sauce on my pasta, so use more than Hazan recommends. The recipe is very flexible as to amounts of tomato and eggplant, so feel free to emphasize what you like most.

About 1 pound eggplant
vegetable oil for frying the eggplant (I use olive oil; I love the flavor of it)
3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teas. chopped garlic
2 Tbs chopped parsley (in winter I leave this out)
1 3/4 cups canned tomatoes, cut up, with their juice
chopped hot red chili pepper, to taste
1 pound pasta (thin spaghetti is recommended)

  1. Slice the eggplant, salt it and let it stand for 1/2 hour. Then drain, pat dry with paper towels, and fry in 1/2 inch hot oil until browned on both sides.
  2. Put the olive oil and garlic in a saucepan and turn on heat to medium. Cook and stir garlic until it gets lightly colored.
  3. Add tomatoes, parsley, chili pepper, and a little salt and stir. Lower heat to a gentle simmer and cook for about 20 minutes, until the oil separates.
  4. Cut the eggplant into 3/4 inch strips and add to the sauce. Cook for another 2 or 3 minutes, stirring once or twice.
  5. Taste for salt and pepper. Enjoy!


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