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Get set for seder: eggplant goulash

No one will know there's eggplant in this hearty stew
No one will know there's eggplant in this hearty stew
Photo by author

April 14 begins the holiday of Passover, and that means planning two seder meals is on the agenda. Although brisket in some form is generally the accepted main course, there are a host of other possibilities for families that either don't want to contend with a week's worth of leftover brisket or that would prefer a main dish that is either pareve or milchig.

Eggplant goulash is one such dish. This is basically a stew that is thickened by reducing the cooking liquid down to a tomato-beef sauce. The eggplant and carrots add texture and sweetness to the stew, and the tomatoes, onion and garlic make it robust.

Preparing the eggplant is critical to keeping the goulash tasty. It is important to thoroughly salt the eggplant slices down and allow all of the brown liquid to drain off. Eggplant belongs to the nightshade family and the fruit contains alkaloids; removing the liquid with salt reduces the amount of these bitter-tasting compounds in the flesh. Salting also firms up the eggplant so that it doesn't turn stringy when added to the stew.

Eggplant Goulash
1 eggplant, peeled
2 onions, sliced thin
1/2 c. vegetable oil, divided
2 1/2 to 3 lbs. cubed beef chuck or stew beef
8 oz. baby carrots
16 oz. Red Gold diced tomatoes
2 c. water
1 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder OR two garlic cloves, diced

Slice eggplant lengthwise into strips that are 3/4" thick. Place in colander and salt pieces thoroughly using coarse kosher salt. Allow to sit at room temperature for at least 1 hour, draining away all brown liquid released. Set aside.

In the meantime, heat 1/4 c. vegetable oil in large Dutch oven. Saute onions until softened, about 3 minutes. Add in meat cubes and brown. Add seasonings, stirring all ingredients well. Lower heat, add 2 c. water and can of tomatoes. Cover and allow to simmer for 50 minutes. Stir occasionally to be sure that the meat doesn't scorch. If the liquid reduces too much during this period, lower heat and add slightly more water.

Rinse eggplant slices and pat dry. Heat remaining 1/4 c. oil into large skillet. Saute eggplant slices in hot oil, browning all sides. Eggplant should be soft after 7 minutes of heating. Set aside.

When the stew has been cooking for 50 to 55 minutes, add the eggplant slices and stir into the meat mixture. Allow to simmer an addtional 10 minutes, stirring frequently. By this time there should be very little liquid in the cooking pot. Serves 4 to 6.

Tip: this is equally good when made with cubed lamb

Sunday: Baked dilled salmon and potatoes