Friday, June 24, 2011

Eggplant Something I can't pronounce (Papoutzakia)

Okay, it’s Eggplant Papoutzakia.

and that is the link to the recipe from Animal, Vegetable, Miracle written by Barbara Kingsolver, with her husband, Steven L. Hopp and, daughter, Camille Kingsolver.  I first read this wonderful book more than three years ago when I was living in Singapore.  Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is about one family’s experiment with growing their own food and living off the land for one year and only buying what they could not raise or grow from local farms in their New England area.  It is all about the advantages (personal health, earth health) of being a locavore, that is, someone who eats food found, grown or raised within 100 miles or fewer of his or her home.

If you have every lived in Singapore, you know that not much is grown on the actual island. (There is a goat farm that I could buy fresh milk from, but that is another cheesy post altogether.)  Much comes from nearby Malaysia, though perhaps not within 100 miles, so living by the Animal, Vegetable, Miracle standards was hard to achieve but it did make me more aware of produce and the distances it traveled to be on my plate and I tried to make more reasonable choices when I could.  

Fast forward three years and we are back in Malaysia. Local produce is much easier to come by, although I must confess to succumbing to the allure of the occasional golden-red-skinned nectarine or small punnet of raspberries, both of which certainly are not grown here. Once again, it’s about making better choices as much as possible.

So on to today’s recipe. Eggplant Papoutzakia.  My mom came across the recipe while flipping through my copy of the book (elder daughter was reading it and left it lying around) and, being a lover of eggplant, she asked if we could try it. My policy is that I am happy to cook anytime, anywhere for just about anyone, if they will come up with the menu.

2 lb. eggplant
Olive oil
2 medium onions, garlic to taste (I used four cloves.)
2 large tomatoes, diced
2 tsp. nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
6 oz. grated mozzarella (I used about eight ounces and sliced it into little pieces which I cast randomly and, I like to think, attractively about the top.)

Slice eggplant lengthwise and sauté lightly in olive oil. Remove from skillet and arrange in a baking dish. I cut my eggplant into many slices and browned them all in a non-stick skillet with just a bit of olive oil for each batch.  I stacked them on a big platter until all were browned and I was ready to assemble the dish. 

Chop onions and garlic and sauté in olive oil. Add diced tomato and spices and mix thoroughly. My family is not a lover of onion chunks so I let this cook down like a good spaghetti sauce, until there was no crunch left at all. I also added a teaspoon of sugar to counter the acid in the canned tomato.  I let it cool for a little bit, then pureed it in the blender. 

Spread mixture over the eggplants and sprinkle an even layer of cheese over top. I oiled the bottom of my lasagna dish with olive oil and spread a bit of the sauce around first. Then, I added the eggplant, the rest of the sauce and then the cheese in the aforementioned attractive manner.  

 Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, until golden on top.


If you are interested in finding locally grown foods in your area of the United States, check out this link. Buy mostly what is in season in your growing area and you are more likely to be buying local produce.

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