The texture of eggplant is usually something you either hate or love, kind of like cooked mushrooms and zucchini. I happen to absolutely adore those foods, both for their textures and their tastes.
However, some of my kids certainly didn’t when they were younger. Dislike of foods because of their texture is quite common with children. But as my offspring have grown, these foods have grown on them, too. I think I can even go as far as to say, they actually love these foods now. (Well, some of them.)
There is such a satisfying tooth-feel when eating the silky sponginess of cooked eggplant, rich – like biting into tender meat – but lighter somehow. Eggplant is a marvelous vessel for soaking up the flavours of whatever sauces and seasonings it’s cooked with, yet still retaining its own identity. The kale in this sort-of-ratatouille adds substance, as do the cannellini beans. If you don’t have cannellini beans, chickpeas or any other type of beans, would work just as well. Use whatever type of bottled or homemade pasta sauce you have on hand. If it is meatless, then this becomes a vegetarian dish. I had a roasted red pepper store-bought spaghetti sauce. You don’t need much – just a little for flavouring and moistness. Adding the poached eggs makes it divine, especially with the soft-cooked yolks oozing into the vegetables in a golden puddle. Ooooh.
This dish is very quick to put together, if you have the ingredients in your refrigerator and pantry, and chock full of good-for-you-ness. There’s lots of healthy fiber from the beans and veggies, antioxidants from the eggplant, kale and tomatoes , and lovely lecithin (brain food) from the egg yolks. It is hearty and filling, not to mention full of fresh flavours.
What more can you ask for in a dish for the family that comes together in 20 minutes?
Eggplant, Kale and Cannellini Bean sort-of-Ratatouille
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced in large chunks
- 1 eggplant, diced in 1-inch (2cm) cubes
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 bunch kale
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1-140z. (398ml) can cannellini beans or chickpeas (1½ cups cooked beans)
- ½ cup (125ml) your favourite tomato-based pasta sauce
- 2 tomatoes, diced (preferably roma, as they hold their shape better)
- 4 to 8 eggs, poached
- parmesan shavings to garnish (optional)
Wash the kale, and remove the stems. This works easily if you hold the kale leaf upright, with the thick part of the stem up, then with a sharp paring knife make short little hacking motions down each side of the stem, slicing away the leafy part. Chop the leafy parts into bite-sized pieces.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan or dutch oven over medium heat. Add the diced onion and eggplant, minced garlic, salt and 2 tablespoons water. The salt helps draw the juices out of the eggplant and the water adds a bit of moisture so you need to use less oil. Eggplant soaks up oil and liquids very quickly. Add a bit more water if it gets too dry.
Saute together for 5 minutes, stirring often
Add the de-stemmed and chopped kale and saute for 5 more minutes.
(Meanwhile heat the water for poaching the eggs.)
Rinse and drain the cannellini beans, then add them to the eggplant and kale, along with the spaghetti sauce, and diced tomatoes.
Saute for 2 to 3 minutes, then turn heat down to low and keep warm while you poach the eggs.
Serve each portion topped with 1 to 2 poached eggs, depending on how hungry your diners are, and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese shavings if desired. (Use a vegetable peeler to get nice large flakes.)