Let’s talk tomatoes. I LOVE tomatoes! One of my favorite summertime treats is a garden salad topped with a tomato freshly picked from my garden or a garden that I know. Knowing where I get my food and what it may have been exposed to is a major concern to me, so you won’t catch me eating a tomato from just anywhere. Call me a tomato snob if you’d like, but the difference between the taste of a tomato straight out of the garden vs. the store bought, out of season version is huge! In order to make them last throughout the winter months, I try to can any surplus we have in the summer. There are no fresh tomatoes growing here in the winter months, so when I run out of my own (and I do, because – did I mention – I LOVE tomatoes!), my go-to back up is Muir Glen Organic, found here.
I’m excited to share some of my favorite recipes featuring tomatoes, and first on my list is this delectable dish my best friend in college shared with me many years ago. She is an amazing little Italian, with all the sass and cooking tradition that goes with it. Buon Appetito!
Eleonora’s Eggplant Sauce
serving size 4-6
- 2 medium sized eggplants
- 2-3 large fresh tomatoes
- 1 large onion
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup olive oil (may need more)
- sea salt and pepper to taste
- crushed red pepper (optional)
I’ve found that it is extremely helpful to prep my onion, garlic, and eggplant prior to getting started.
With the eggplant, I peel it first and then cube it. In a large skillet heat a generous amount of olive oil. Dice onion and garlic or use a garlic press and add to olive oil.
Once the onion is slightly tender, add the eggplant. At this point, you may need to adjust the amount of olive oil. The eggplant should soak up the oil, leaving very little in the skillet. If you don’t have enough, you’ll have dry eggplant. And you’ll know you’ve used too much if there’s oil visibly sitting in your skillet. Feel free to add a little or drain excess, but trust me – it will work out either way 🙂 !
Once the eggplant has soaked up your olive oil, add your tomatoes. I prefer to simply peel and dice mine, but you may find it easier to blanch them to remove skins (add to boiling water for 30-60 seconds, immerse in ice water, and skin will peel away easily)
Try to keep as much juice as you can, and add that to your eggplant mixture with the tomatoes. Generously add salt, pepper, and red pepper if that fits your taste. Cover and let this one simmer! In a time-crunch, I have served this in less than an hour, but you’ll get better results if you can give it 1-2 hours of simmer time. Definitely stir occasionally because it will stick!
While I typically serve it up with whole wheat pasta for my kiddos, I often prefer to pair it with chicken and a side of roasted broccoli or kale. My mom taught me that every dinner should be served with a green veggie, and I have made it my mission to pass that along to my kids. They’ve heard it so much they now quote it, so – mission accomplished! This recipe feeds my family of 6, but I often double it to have some for leftovers. It is just as delicious when heated up for another meal!
Remember, cooking – like anything else – takes practice. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try new things even if you don’t nail it every time. Making food that nourishes your body and your family’s bodies is tremendously rewarding, but it takes practice. I am not a chef, but I LOVE to cook and have fun experimenting with new dishes to create from REAL food. Over time, even the most daunting and seemingly time-consuming recipes will become a quick, easy part of your meal planning and preparation.
Enjoy, and check back to see what’s next for me and my tomatoes!