the newest, most wonderful stuff to come from the Radical Muffin kitchen: roasted eggplant, caramelized onion tapenadé.
i know those of you I had at caramelized onions. Others of you maybe daunted by “tapenadé,” but I assure you the French is only to denote spreadability and to make fancy what is an absurdly easy culinary feat. Perhaps I shouldn’t contribute to the bastardization of tapenadé, originally a Provençal spread of capers, black olives, and anchovies puréed with olive oil, but “tapenadé” sounds better than “mush,” yes? So call it relish or caponata or chutney, and marvel at its potential versatility: frittata base, ravioli filling, and, of course, spreading and dipping à la its muse, baba ghanoush.
the quick and dirty: roast eggplant; caramelize diced onion in butter; scrape eggplant innards into onion; add salt, pepper & a generous amount of paprika; mush together; serve.
relish applause or eat in gluttonous solitude. With wine.
the scenic route: begin by loving your eggplant. Maybe you’ll save this recipe for when your garden’s eggplants are heavy on their vines. We got Japanese eggplant in our farm share; we shared it with our beloved guests at a CSA celebration potluck as this dish, straight up with amazing bread. The moody & handsome specimen in the pics is from the Cortelyou Farmers’ Market. Head first in the basket, his plump butt made me grab him, and it was the farmer who showed me his nose.
if you’re doing this now, and your kitchen is as hot as ours, then put on your nothingest cooking outfit and crank up your oven to 450°. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. If your eggplants are small, like Fairy Tails, or long and skinny like most Asian varieties then roast them whole and give them a good slice with a sharp paring knife to let the steam escape. If they are of the buldging type, like Prosperosa, then slice them in half and put them face down on the paper. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour, checking every 9 minutes or so. At the first check sprinkle with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Flip and turn it about half way through cooking, and let it go until it is falling apart.
meanwhile, over a high flame, heat your heaviest skillet—cast iron being the unsurpassed champion for this task. Turn the heat down to low, add a few tablespoons of butter or olive oil (vegan). Quickly dice or shred the appropriate amount of onion to your eggplant, and add it as the fat begins to bubble. For a veggie the size of the one pictured (about a pound and a half, I think), one onion of unusual size cooked down to the right amount of sweet buttery sludge. Turn up the heat, hot but not so hot you burn the fat. Cook patiently, turning with restraint, for a long time. Until they are browning and falling apart. The eggplant will probably be done sometime before they are. Let it hang out, cooling.
when the eggplant is cool enough to handle, scrape it onto the onions. Cook a little longer, adding salt, pepper and at least a tablespoon of paprika. That is if you have delicious paprika. Ours is “Pimenton el Angel” that we picked up at Sahadis. It is a hot paprika from Spain, and carries a smoked red taste into the dish. Smash the eggplant, some of the onion too if you are so inclined. Turn off the heat whenever things seem to smell right and certainly before overbrowning. Straight out of the skillet it is a robust topping for pasta or rice. It can warmly great guests to your table as you do final fiddling, and it can stand around just foreves at a cocktail party. I suspect it keeps well but cannot say because we’ve never left any.