Periodically, Ana and I have a day of almost total laziness, watching mystery shows and knitting along to them. Our current fave is Phryne Fisher, but, sad to say, we had exhausted her and watched all the episodes. The same with Lewis, whom we also enjoy immensely. We have had to watch thousand year old Midsomer Murders and Inspector Morse – not that I object in the least to that. But good news! There is a new season of Phryne, just ready for us, and we are full of plans to have a fun day of indolence with our flapper heroine.
We do rouse ourselves a bit, in order to fix a fun meal, usually one that our families would not appreciate as much as we will. Just prior to Ana’s last visit, the New York Times cooking section was all on about eggplant and tomato dishes. “Does Ana like eggplant?” I asked Becca. “She sure does!” Becca said. Eggplant is something that many folks have opinions about. So I consulted Ana, and she sent several recipes for us to consider. We decided to use them as a starting point, and then let our culinary imaginations take over. But best of all, Ana brought some beautiful tomatoes, largesse from her bountiful garden.
We watched an episode of something, and the, took a break to cook. While Ana was fiddling with the garlic, I was measuring and preparing the tomatoes. The recipe called for a pound. “That’s sixteen ounces,” Ana told me. “Of course I know that!” I huffily responded. When I had the tomatoes measured out, I said, “This really doesn’t look like enough tomatoes. What do you think?” Well, Ana thought, correctly, that I had only gotten out eight ounces, so of course it wasn’t enough. Embarrassed, I wondered what I could have been thinking. I guess I wasn’t thinking at all.
The resultant risotto was exquisite! Maybe the best I have ever eaten. Here is our recipe so you can try it too!
1 largish eggplant
One large onion
One head garlic (that’s right – one head. Ana and I feel that there can never be too much garlic!)
One pound small tomatoes – cherry or similar
1 ½ cup Arborio rice
3 cups vegetable broth
½ cup suitable wine
½ cup fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup freshly ground Parmesan
Shaved Parmesan or Asiago cheese
Heat the oven to 450° Cut the eggplant in half, and make slits in the cut side, being careful not to cut through to the skin. Coat the eggplant halves in olive oil, and place face down on a baking sheet lined with tinfoil. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until it starts to look wrinkled and slightly collapsing. Remove it from the oven and chop it up.
Meanwhile, chop the onions and peel and chop the garlic. Cut the tomatoes in half and chiffonade the basil leaves. In your pressure cooker, sauté the onion in olive oil until it looks translucent. Add the garlic and sauté a minute more. Add the rice and stir until each rice grain is coated with oil. Stir in the eggplant. Add the wine and broth. Check for seasoning, adding the pepper and salt if needed. Bring to pressure and cook for 5 minutes. When you are ready to eat, add the grated Parmesan, the tomatoes, and the basil leaves, reserving a few for garnish. Serve each plate topped with a bit of shaved Asaigo cheese and a bit of basil. Delicious!