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2 eggplant options for solo cooks

  • New York Times “Meals for Me” by Sam Stern offers pairs of recipes using a core ingredient. Here are the two for eggplant: Miso Eggplant Salad, top, and Eggplant and Tomato Fusilli.

I’ve had a couple people who live alone tell me they’re in a cooking rut. They mostly eat cereal or deli sandwiches for dinner, or go out for fast food. Why bother spending time in the kitchen, they ask?

Because cooking for one can be exciting. There’s no pressure to impress others, so it’s an opportunity to experiment. It’s also a chance to appreciate the beauty and goodness of vegetables, fruits and other foods.

In fact, a new cookbook designed for solo cooks, “Meals for Me: One Core Ingredient — Two Delicious Meals,” by Sam Stern, offers exciting pairs of recipes.

I tested the recipes using eggplant as a core ingredient. One is Italian, the other Asian. Both are simple, flavorful, visually appealing and extremely easy to make. Either can be made in the time it takes to drive to a fast-food restaurant.

EGGPLANT AND TOMATO FUSILLI

  • 3-1/2 ounces eggplant
  • 3 cherry tomatoes
  • Small handful of fresh basil
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 shallot, diced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for frying
  • 3-1/2 ounces fusilli
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Parmesan shavings, to serve

Boil a large pot of salted water for fusilli.

Meanwhile, chop eggplant into 5/8-inch cubes. Cut tomatoes into quarters. Tear basil. In bowl, combine vinegar, shallot and oil.

Cook pasta according to package directions. Coat eggplant lightly in olive oil and fry in pan over medium heat until golden and cooked through. Remove from pan, squeeze lemon juice over it and season with salt and pepper.

Drain cooked pasta and return it to pan. Add eggplant, tomatoes, basil and vinegar mixture. Combine well and adjust seasoning if necessary. Top with Parmesan and squeeze more lemon juice, to taste.

MISO EGGPLANT SALAD

  • 7 ounces eggplant
  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • 2 teaspoons miso
  • 2 teaspoons rice wine
  • 2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 Boston lettuce, leaves separated
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • Toasted sesame oil, for dressing

Cut eggplant into 5/8-inch-wide strips. Toss it in peanut oil. In pan over medium, fry until golden brown.

Meanwhile, in bowl, combine miso, wine and vinegar.

When eggplant is cooked, remove from heat, top with the lettuce and scallions, and drizzle with miso mixture and sesame oil.

Nutritional information unavailable.

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