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Easy Eggplant Stew (Inspired by Elizabeth David)

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'At Elizabeth David's Table' is a classic cookbook that brings together recipes from all over the world, as collected by the celebrated food writer. Simply presented, most of the dishes are a meditation on good eating by using fresh ingredients and working with them intelligently. Her recipe for Lamb and Eggplant Stew is easily adapted to your personal budget or meat preferences. This recipe is for a small meal, but you can expand the ingredients as necessary.The beauty of this stew is that it's meant to work with minimal amounts of meat, which is great for your body and your budget.

If cooking for one, take a medium sized eggplant and cut into cubes. Wash and drain, then sprinkle salt over it and apply pressure. Putting the eggplant between two plates with a few cans on top can work. Let this rest for 30 mins to sweat out any excess liquid. This will keep the eggplant cubes from absorbing excess oil later on. Learn more about cooking and preparing eggplant here.

If you decide to add meat, it can be the lamb of the original recipe, but this examiner used a minute steak and a pork tenderloin chop, roughly diced. In a large pot, brown the meat and a thinly sliced onion in about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Sprinkle with oregano, tarragon, pepper and other spices. Remove the meat and onion with a slotted spoon, then add the washed and dried eggplant cubes to cook in the same oil. Cook the eggplant for approximately ten minutes, stirring occasionally.

Return the meat and onions to the pot, along with the tomatoes, a clove of crushed garlic (or a spoonful of bottled minced garlic). The garlic and tomatoes can be blended together before adding to the stew, if you prefer.Thisadaptation uses a curry paste instead of the recommended ground cumin. Try Nirav's on www.ishopindian.com, or try making your own. You can let this cook over medium heat for the next 45 minutes to an hour.

Once covered, the stew bubbles along happily with minimal stirring. The flavors break down and meld together in a mellow, but wholly delicious way. It tastes even better the next day, so you can pack leftovers for lunch. Serve over white rice, and sprinkle some parsley over it for color.

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