Eggplant is something that many people love or hate. I’ve never heard anyone say the in-between. The typical season for eggplant is around July, up through October. We are getting down to the end of the eggplant season, so I thought I’d get this recipe in there!
Eggplant is a relatively good source of vitamin C and other antioxidants, but not a huge source of nutrition otherwise. Many people never use it as a sauce/ puree for meat, but it is pretty incredible when made this way especially for lamb, as well as veal, beef, or even chicken.
To prepare eggplant for a sauce, slice the eggplant(s) in half lengthwise. Score the flesh in 1/2 inch sections, lengthwise, without cutting through the skin. Cut the garlic gloves in half, also lengthwise, and evenly distribute into the sliced eggplant. Place a few branches of fresh thyme into the slices of eggplant, drizzle some extra virgin olive oil over the top and season with salt and black pepper. Roast on a sheet pan in a 400F degree oven until the eggplant softens and becomes golden brown (about 25-30 Min).
With a spoon, scrape the flesh out of the eggplant skin into a blender, removing the thyme branches. Add a touch of cream and a squirt of fresh lemon juice, blend until creamy and season to taste. Serve hot with meat.
2 Large Eggplant
6 Medium sized cloves of Garlic
10 sprigs of FreshThyme
1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
1/4 – 1/3 Cup of Cream
Tomato sauce is something everyone knows. When I was younger, I remember my favorite meals being pasta with tomato sauce, pizza and lasagna. All of these had a common ingredient; tomato sauce. Growing up, I’ve always had fresh, garden tomatoes during the summer. The tomato is something that really can go with just about anything. It can be eaten raw, right off the plant, chopped and put into salads, made into soups and sauces. As a sauce, it can be used to moisten and enhance just about any protein such as beef, lamb, pork, chicken or fish assuming the appropriate herbs and spices and/or additional reductions are added based on the food it is meant to accompany.
In my personal opinion, it is best to make a basic tomato sauce which then can be used as the foundation for any other tomato-based sauces. I’ve used this recipe as a base for ‘Manhattan-style’ Clam chowder, Tomato- Foccacia bread and a variety of other recipes. Flavors can always be added, but never taken away! The type of tomatoes used for sauce is also important. All tomatoes are not created equal. Some are better suited for sauce, and some better raw, for salads and such. For those that are not going to go and seek out the best fresh tomatoes during the summer (there are more than 5000 cultivated tomato varieties in the world) your best bet would be to buy a good quality canned tomato. San Marzano tomatoes are some of the best canning tomatoes due to their percentage of pulp to water and thin skins, so they make a pretty good sauce. They can be found at just about any market and especially Italian markets. In picking out good quality, canned tomatoes, I suggest looking for San Marzano tomatoes. Make sure that the can says only; tomatoes, (and maybe a little) salt. Look to make sure there are no thickeners, additives, emulsifiers or added water. If you can buy organic, then do so, but as long as the previous quality markers check out, I wouldn’t worry too much about it.
5 (28oz) Cans of San Marzano tomatoes (or whole, peeled tomatoes)
5 Onions, skinned, rough chop
5 Carrots, peeled, rough chop
10 Celery stalks, washed, rough chop
15 Garlic cloves, peeled, diced
5 Bay leaves
8 Sage leaves
5 Rosemary branches
1 litre White Wine
1/4 Cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil or Canola Oil
Method of Prep
- Turn the heat on high under a big soup pot.
- Add oil to the pan. Once hot, add all vegetables (except tomatoes and herbs). Saute until onions become translucent and vegetables start to become soft. Add garlic and white wine, stir and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes and herbs, use a whisk or potato masher to gently crush the tomatoes.
- Cook at a simmer for roughly 3-4 hours or until the batch reduces by about 1/4 to 1/3 (depending on the pot, see below), giving it a stir every once in a while.
- Remove from heat and remove herb stems and bay leaves. Using a blender, puree into a smooth sauce and can, or transfer to a storage container for later use, cool and refrigerate.
- For a sweeter sauce, use more carrot.
- I suggest using any combination of these herbs based on individual preference; (Fresh) marjoram, rosemary, sage, bay leaf, parsley, thyme. (Rosemary, sage and bay leaf are what I was taught with, and what I prefer…)
- If using olive oil, careful not to overheat before vegetables are added as it doesn’t tolerate high heat as well as canola oil.