This post is for my friend Diane, the queen of eggplants! We have been friends for a couple of years and share garden space at the church garden. She really knows how to grow eggplants, dozens on a single plant both years!
This recipe is for dealing with those small eggplants you find yourself with when the frost strikes and all delicate plants die in the frosty fall air. I pick them no matter how small and this is how we use them! Yes, the eggplant recipe fest continues!
This stew is very suitable for the slow cooker although you could do it on the stove top, I used to cook them in a big pot and watch over it until the eggplants are tender but I really love being able to put it all in my crock pot and walk away for four hours. No worries on burnt bottom of the pot syndrome when you use the slow cooker.
If you don’t have baby eggplants I think you could use Japanese eggplants cut into workable lengths.
I used to make it rather bland but I really enjoy this spicy version!
Spicy Baby Eggplants and Pasta Stew
7-12 small eggplants from tiny up to about six inches long
1-2 ounces hard parmesan cheese
1 32 oz can of tomato sauce
½ cup baby carrots
1 medium carrot diced
½ tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp. red pepper flakes (more or less to your personal taste)
½ tsp. sea salt
1 large garlic clove, smashed
½ cup oil cured black olives
1-2 tbsp. capers
Cut the Parmesan cheese into tiny wedges. Trim off the top cap of the eggplant. Cut 3-4 slashes in the side of each eggplant going in the direction from the cap to the bottom.
Put a wedge of cheese into each deep slash. I only put 2 slashes in tiny eggplants, 3 in bigger ones and 4 in the largest eggplants. Put the eggplants into your slow cooker. Top with the chopped onion and carrots. I cut my carrots in half as they were kinda large. Top with the herbs/spices. Pour the tomato sauce over it all. I used a quart of homemade tomato sauce out of my freezer. If you use a can of plain tomato sauce you might want to add 1 tsp. dried basil and same amount of oregano. Top with the garlic, olives, and capers. Cover and cook in your slow cooker on high for 4 hours.
Cook gluten free ziti, enough for how many people you are serving, and drain it one minute before the package directions say it will be done. Put it back in the now empty pot and add the eggplant mixture out of your crock pot. Cook a minute stirring it all around the pot. This allows the ziti to soak up some of the sauce and get a great authentic flavor.
Serve in a low wide soup bowl with a good grating of Parmesan cheese on top. If you have some gluten free rolls or fresh bread – heaven with this stew!
I like this stew leftover for lunch served over a microwaved baked potato. I use a knife to coarsely chop up the baby eggplants before heating them and pouring over the hot potato.
Note I used olives with pits but if you can find them pitted, all the better! If you are an olive hater, leave them out but they really add to the flavor. Add more salt if you leave them out.