Sunday, January 25, 2015

Eggplant and Cabbage over Breaded Eggplant Cutlet on a Harvest Grains Bed with Tempeh (No Added Fat)

I wanted to make an eggplant dish tonight and looked back at my notes from December 29th, my last home-cooked meal of 2014. I had cooked with liquid for 7 minutes and then, for 3 minutes, pressure cooked eggplant, kale, and water, then mixed in onion, seitan, and marinara.

I noted then that "the main dish would have benefited from some garlic, either separately grilled and diced and then mixed in at the end or, for a milder flavor, added to the pressure cooker at the beginning .... The marinara was good but I think a more spicy sauce would be even better, perhaps an Indian spice sauce (which would, however, preclude my daughter's enjoying the dish), or at least perhaps a doubling of the marinara sauce. Capers could have been nice in the main course, as well.... I should make several more dishes with eggplant cooked this way. Perhaps I could then try additional ways of cooking eggplant (slow cooking?) in my Instant Pot."

I still would like to slow cook eggplant but came up with the idea of serving a sautéed and then pressure cooked eggplant atop some breaded eggplant cutlets that I had in frozen form from the Dominex company. These cutlets are so low in fat (10g if one were to eat the whole pound of eggplant in the package, but we used at most half of the package for three of us, or less than 2g of fat per person), that I still classify this meal as a no-added-fat one. Instead of kale, I used some cabbage, and, instead of a water sauté, I sautéed the way I normally do with no added fat or liquids. Here is what I did:

  • Medium eggplant cut into 3/8" cubes
  • Approximately a cup (about 1/2 of my large onion) of onion cut into roughly 1/4" x 1" strips
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Approximately a cup (about 1/5 of the head that I used) of cabbage cut into approximately 1/4" x 1" strips
  • Vegan bouillon cube
  • Salt to taste (try 1/4 t)
  • (Optional) 1 or 2 t capers
  • (Optional) 1/4 t lemon pepper or freshly ground black pepper
  • (Optional) 1/4 t tarragon
  • (Optional) Crushed red pepper or hot sauce to taste
  • Approx. 1/4 cup marinara sauce
  • (Optional) One slice per serving Dominex or other brand breaded eggplant cutlets (of course, cutlets can be made, perhaps by partially cooking eggplant slices and then dredging in a bit of plant milk and bread crumbs)

  • I put the eggplant and onion into my Instant Pot pressure cooker and turned it on in sauté mode, clicking the Adjust button to cook on low.
  • I cooked for about 10m, stirring occasionally. There was (only) a little bit of sticking; natural juices from the eggplant came out and kept things moving quite nicely.
  • After about 10m, the eggplant was softened and the onion clear. I turned the pressure cooker off.
  • While the eggplant was cooking, I put in a cast iron pan heated over medium-high the breaded eggplant and cooked, flipping several times, till nicely cooked and gently browned on both sides. (I also made some grains, described below.)
  • I added water and briefly stirred, which helped to release any little bit that was still sticking onto the pan.
  • I also added the cabbage and bouillon cube, then covered the Instant Pot and cooked on high pressure for 2 minutes.
  • I let the pressure come down a bit then when I was ready to serve, I slowly released remaining pressure and opened the top.
  • I mixed in the salt, capers, lemon pepper, and tarragon (but didn't use spicy heat, though my wife and I added a bit of hot sauce at the table) and served atop a bed of "harvest grains" (see below) and eggplant cutlet for my Dad.
  • My Dad doesn't eat garlic but the rest of us do, so I mixed in the marinara and stirred, putting the Instant Pot back into a low sauté for a few minutes, then served as I did my Dad.
I also prepared some "harvest grains" that I had purchased from Trader Joe's. It is a mix of Israeli couscous, orzo, baby garbanzo beans, and red quinoa made simply by using a ratio of 5 parts grain to 7 parts water, along with a vegan bouillon cube, that I brought to a low 10-minute simmer and then immediately served; any grain, such as quinoa (really a seed!), wild rice (really a grass!), rice, or other would work well. Tempeh, browned just with the residual oil in occasional cleaning of the cast iron, completed the meal and made for additional good nutrition and a nice presentation.

We all loved the meal, even my sometimes finicky daughter, who particularly liked the breaded eggplant. The combination was quite nice, and worked well together. I don't often shop at Trader Joe's, but should go back to get this nice grain mixture.

Ideas for the future
Garlic and maybe a little wine cooked into the main course would be good as might be a little nutritional yeast mixed in at the end. Some crookneck squash or perhaps black beans would also make a good addition. I am glad that I came up with the idea of using the breaded eggplant in combination with the pressure cooked eggplant, and should explore using breaded eggplant as an accent or anchor for additional meals.

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