Stewed Eggplant & Okra
Autumn is officially here in the mountains of Virginia, and along with the changing leaves and the plethora of pumpkins & squash at the farmers market comes the cold. It’s downright nippy at the cabin at night! So this week brought the first fireplace fire of the season (rather smokey–I need to figure out how to build a proper fire, apparently), and I can usually be found huddled up at my desk or on the couch wrapped in blankets with both cats piled on top of me. Or piled under the blanket with me. They’re pitiful, these cats, forgetting that they have fur and should be used to the cold, but at least their pawings and purrs keep me warmer. I can’t complain!
With the cold comes my cravings for warm, comforting food. While I haven’t yet made a batch of chili, soups are in the works, and I think I’m going to amp up my bread baking. I’ve been buying bread all summer, and while God knows I can’t compete with Ginger’s loaves, it’s time to get back to it. But for now I’m still using up the bounty available at market–the season’s last okra and eggplant.
It’s true, I’m not quite ready to transition, although fall is my favorite season, and I’ve been trying to dream summer vegetables into my fridge. So with this dish I tried to celebrate the end of the season, the final gifts of summer’s goodness–but with a warm, autumny twist. It’s simple, just vegetables stewed together, but it hits the spot, warms you up. And the beauty of it is that you can substitute pretty much any vegetable for the okra or eggplant–it’s more a method than anything else. A delicious method. And a warm method to boot!
Stewed Eggplant & Okra
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 eggplant, diced into 1/2 inch squares
1 c okra, cut into rounds
2 tomatoes, cored and diced
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp dried thyme
salt & pepper to taste
extra virgin olive oil
In a heavy bottom pot, warm 1 tsp olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté for 5-7 minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute, until fragrant. Add the smoked paprika and thyme, cook for 30 seconds, then deglaze the pot with a splash of water.
Add the eggplant, okra, and tomatoes. Stir to mix well, add a splash of water, place lid on pot, lower heat to medium-low, and let cook for 20-30 minutes until soft. Check every couple of minutes to add more water if necessary, add salt & pepper to taste.
Serve over mashed potatoes with sautéed greens on the side.