Cathy's Kitchen Prescription LLC
Baby Eggplant and Artichoke Ragout
Here’s a flavorful, eye-catching summer dish featuring sweet diminutive Indian ratna eggplants and tender baby artichokes, stewed in a sauce of hydroponically grown mini peppers and cherry tomatoes, and aromatics. A smattering of delightfully sharp Lebanese green olives balances the sweet vegetable flavors. Serve with a crusty, artisanal 100% whole grain loaf, or atop a mash of potatoes, polenta, or whole grain or bean pasta.
Every element of this dish carries is climate-friendly. Hydroponically cultivated tomatoes and peppers use far less water, land, and fertilizer than their soil-grown counterparts.
Prep time 20 minutes
Cook time 35 to 45 minutes
Serves 3 to 5
1 ½ pounds cherry tomatoes
1 ½ pounds mini bell peppers, seeded
1 medium white onion, about 1 cup, cut in a small dice
3 large cloves garlic, peeled
Fistful of mixed fresh herbs like parsley, dill, mint, marjoram, summer savory
Grinds of black pepper to taste
12 to 15 baby artichokes, trimmed, tough leaves removed
1 large lemon, juiced or 5 tablespoons lemon juice
12 to 15 small ratna eggplants, stems intact, slit from base to top
¼ cup small brined green olives like Lebanese baladi, Turkish ye antepten, Italian barensane, or French picholine, unpitted
1/3 cup red aka miso paste, diluted in 2/3 cup water
Hint: Choose small eggplants and artichokes the size of large walnuts for sweet flavor, tender texture, and uniform cooking.
Hint: Olives are not pitted in traditional Mediterranean dishes, because the flesh around the pits is so flavorful. When serving, remove the olive pits for young children.
Seed the peppers and remove their stems. Transfer to a food processor and pulse into uniformly small pieces. Transfer to a large bowl and retain any juices. Repeat with the cherry tomatoes. Do not overprocess into a smooth sauce, the mix should have a coarse texture.
Remove any tough stems from the fresh herbs. On a large cutting board, use a mezzaluna or chef knife to chop the herbs and garlic together finely.
Fill a medium-large bowl with water. Stir in the lemon juice. After prepping them, transfer the prepped artichokes and eggplants immediately to the acidulated water to retard oxidation. The eggplants will begin to open, making them easier to fill.
Trim the very bottom of the baby artichokes and remove all the outer leaves which will not tenderize sufficiently with cooking. The artichoke that remains should be pale jade green and tear easily. There is no need to worry about the chokes. Baby artichokes are entirely edible.
Leave an inch of the stems on each eggplant and trim if longer. Use a sharp paring knife to slit the eggplants from the base towards the stem, leaving the flesh attached to the stem. Repeat with another slit perpendicular to the first, creating an “x” that extends towards the top. We need eggplants held together by their stems to stuff with ragout.
Heat a large skillet over a medium flame for 3 minutes. Add the onion, chopped peppers and tomatoes. Cover, bring to a low simmer and cook for 10 minutes.
When the vegetables have softened, stir in the chopped garlic-herb mix. Season with grinds of black pepper to taste. If the ragout is dry, add a cup of water. The ragout should be moist and saucy but not watery.
After a minute add the baby artichokes and eggplants. Gently open each eggplant and stuff with a spoonful of the ragout. Sprinkle the olives here and there. Cover and continue to simmer for about 20 minutes before testing for doneness. The ragout is ready when it is fragrant, and the eggplants and artichokes are tender and pierced easily with a knife.
Serve warm. Pass around the diluted miso for guests to drizzle on top to taste. One could mix the miso in the ragout as it cooks but that would destroy miso’s beneficial microbes. Better to season the dish with diluted miso at the table.
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