Benefits of carbophobia

Among the benefits of avoiding carbs (yes, the dreaded Atkins) are such discoveries as this eggplant recipe from the New York Times last week. Victoria loves eggplant in all forms discovered to date, so I know it would be a winner.

Eggplant, La Tavernetta Style
August 29, 2007
Time: About 30 minutes

  • 2 pounds eggplant of any variety, the smallest you can find
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic, slivered
  • 12 good cherry tomatoes, halved, or a couple plum or medium-size regular tomatoes, cored and chopped
  • 1 cup roughly chopped basil leaves.
  1. Cut eggplant into pieces about an inch or two long and no more than a half-inch wide; each piece should have a bit of skin and a bit of flesh. (If eggplant are small, cut them first in long strips, then cut them crosswise. If large, you may end up discarding or reserving the fleshy, seedy center.)
  2. Put 1/3 cup oil in a skillet over medium heat; a minute later add eggplant. Cook, stirring occasionally, and seasoning with salt and pepper until very soft, about 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, put remaining oil in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add garlic and cook until it colors slightly. Add tomatoes and about 2/3 of the basil, raise heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture is saucy, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. When both sauce and eggplant are done, combine them. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature, or over pasta, garnished with remaining basil.

Yield: 2 to 4 servings.

Victoria was happy to pick up eggplants when I suggested it; unfortunately, I’d forgotten the bit about “the smallest you can find,” so she brought us several big ones.

As a precaution, I did the slice, salt, rest, rinse, wipe trick for reducing the bitter oils that can lead to tingling tongue syndrome. Otherwise, I pretty much did as I was told. It’s been forever since I’ve simmered garlic in oil on low heat, and doing so for this recipe was a good reminder that there are good reasons to do it that way–it puts off an incredible aroma and extracts the garlickiest of garlicky flavors. Probably gilding the lily, but I couldn’t resist a grating of parmesan on top.

Since I’m gluten-intolerant (besides doing Atkins), serving over pasta wasn’t an option. Instead, we roasted a spaghetti squash (halve, scoop out guts, roast inside-down at 375 for about 40 minutes, scoop out and fluff flesh with a fork, toss with butter and kosher salt) and of course also roasted the seeds (scatter with butter, salt, rescue from oven after about 10-15 minutes when lightly browned) as an appetizer.

To complete the menu, a little caprese (slice tomatoes, drizzle with olive oil, grind fresh black telicherry pepper, place fresh basil leaf, place slice of buffalo mozzarella, grind kosher salt). This is a bit redundant when you’re having a tomato-based pasta sauce, really, but we had gorgeous fresh heirloom tomatoes and it’s a crime to let them rot in neglect.