This past summer, when the factory that I work at went 24-7, I began to work twelve hour shifts. On the days that I worked, I would get home at 8PM or later. Sometimes I would find the house empty before my wife got home from the barn.
I freely admit I am a better gardener than a cook, but finding the house empty I cannot resist the urge to mess up my wife's kitchen.
I like to experiment with vegetarian cooking and in the summer have a wealth of all kinds of goodies growing in my garden to sustain my twisted schemes.
This is a quick and simple vegetarian sauté that I came up with on the fly on just such a summer night.
2 Japanese eggplants
2 cups sweet orange-skinned cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup dry sherry
olive oil cooking spray
Parmesan or Asiago cheese for grating (or similar)
A few sweet basil leaves
Run out into the backyard into the garden with a flashlight where you will presently be attacked by 10,000 flood water mosquitoes. Quickly pick the tomatoes, basil and eggplants, gathering them into the front of your shirt. Screaming like a little girl, run as fast as you can back into the house, away from the mosquitoes.
Back in the house, rinse off the cherry tomatoes and put them into a Pyrex tempered bowl. Set a kettle of water to boil.
Peel and slice the eggplant into slices no thicker than a half inch. Salt the slices well and place them between sheets of paper towels. This draws off the moisture of the eggplant and will mellow them if they are bitter.
Once your water has boiled, pour the water over the cherry tomatoes until they are covered. Let them set for just a moment or two. Run the bowl under cold water until the tomatoes are cool enough to handle. Discard the water. Half each tomato and discard the skin. The boiling water should have loosened the skin from the flesh of the tomatoes so that this is an easy task. Set the tomatoes aside.
Set a large non-stick saucepan or skillet over medium heat. Spray the pan evenly and generously. Sauté the eggplant until each slice has a nice golden brown char on each side. Remove the eggplant to your plate.
Turn the heat up to medium-high and sauté the cherry tomato halves. They should quickly begin to get a golden char. Before the tomatoes turn into mush, add the dry sherry into the pan. With a spatula or wooden spoon scrape up all the good brown bits stuck to the pan as the sherry quickly reduces. The sherry should not take longer than 20 seconds to reduce.
Pour the contents of the saucepan over the eggplant. Add your finely grated cheese and garnish with the sweet basil leaves. Enjoy!
Experiment with this recipe, substituting the sherry for vermouth or white wine or a citrus juice. Have fun!