By Alia Al-Chalabi
If you’re anything like me, you have dabbled in going vegetarian for a few years and then stopped because the dining hall didn’t have enough options when you arrived on campus.
Well, now that I have a kitchen, I am doing my best to cut back on eating meat more than a few times a week. For a perfect vegetarian dish that is sure to impress, try this fried eggplant recipe with fresh tomato sauce.
- 2 large eggplants (or 4 small ones)
- Olive oil (enough to fill ¼ inch of frying pan, plus some)
- 2 cups rice
- 4 tomatoes
- Black pepper
- Red pepper flakes
- 1 frying pan
- 1 pot
To start, take your eggplant and cut off the top of it. Then, for perfectly friable pieces that aren’t too thick or thin, cut the eggplant into ¼ inch disks. I like to personally keep the peel on, but if it’s too bitter for your taste, feel free to peel the eggplant prior to cutting your disks. However, I do recommend peeling the eggplant in a striped pattern with a little bit of skin every ½ inch or so, just so the eggplant doesn’t fall apart when dipped into the oil.
Fill your frying pan about ¼ inch high with olive oil and heat to medium-high heat. Do not use a neutral oil (such as canola oil), as you want a stronger flavor out of the eggplant for this dish. Once the pan is sizzling hot, add the eggplant so that one even layer fits in the pan.
Turn the eggplant over after about three minutes. You’ll see the eggplant getting darker in color and its skin getting crispy. After another three minutes, transfer your eggplant to a plate with a layer of paper towel laid across it, immediately adding salt to your desire. This will absorb some of the unwanted oil and allows the salt to “stick” to the eggplant. Let cool.
To make the rice, fill a large pot with three cups of water and two cups of rice. If you would like to modify the amount, though, the rule is generally ½ cup of water to every one cup of rice. Cook the rice for about 20 minutes over a low heat (Tip: wrapping the lid in a dish cloth helps absorb moisture).
The last step is preparing a nice, fresh tomato sauce to top it all off.
Start by peeling four tomatoes and cutting out the stems. Then, crush them into a pot with a little bit of water, two teaspoons of salt, two teaspoons of black pepper, a dash of red pepper flakes and olive oil. Cook until it comes to a sauce-like consistency.
Plate your rice with eggplants on top and pour over the tomato sauce. Enjoy!