I’ve been trying to eat less meat during the week, meaning Monday – Thursday (hilarious, considering a very recent post of mine was a burger with bacon and eggs). It’s pretty easy to do right now while fresh veggies are overflowing and perfectly ripe and gorgeous. It’s certainly possible I’ll be back to being a daily flesh eater as soon as local produce goes scarce, but I have been feeling fairly conflicted about meat recently. I’m reading Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals. If you ever have an inkling of going vegetarian, but just not sure if you can do it, DON’T read this book (because you will feel incredibly guilty every time you subsequently eat meat. And CERTAINLY DON’T watch Food, Inc.) Every page makes me feel worse and worse about the huge problems associated with factory farms – and there are MANY – not just for the animal, but for humans, the environment, and even the economy. The best I can see doing – since realistically I’m too lazy to ever become a “real” vegetarian – is t0 try to reduce my consumption and to purchase all meat and eggs from local producers that utilize a more sustainable, humane farming system. And I am lucky enough to be in an area where this is feasible. Doing this certainly is not cheaper, but my true belief is that it is the right thing to do and I hope soon others will realize this. (Needless to say, I was being facetious and you really SHOULD read Eating Animals and watch Food, Inc.)
Eggplant and Tomato Ragout with Feta over Quinoa Cakes
Serves 2. Adapted from Epicurious.com
For Quinoa Cakes
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 cup quinoa
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 4 to 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
For Eggplant and Tomato Ragout
- 1 large eggplant, diced
- 3 medium tomatoes
- 1 medium onion
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 2 roasted red peppers (I used jarred ones), chopped
- 1/4 cup vegetable broth
- 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped (optional)
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped (optional)
- 1/4 cup feta, crumbled
To make quinoa cakes:
Bring water and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a boil in a heavy medium saucepan.
Stir quinoa into boiling water and return to a boil, then simmer, covered, until quinoa is dry and water is absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and cool, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes, then stir in a beaten egg.
Line a baking sheet with plastic wrap and lightly brush with oil. Lightly oil a 1-cup dry-ingredient measure. Lightly fill enough quinoa into measure with a rubber spatula or spoon to fill it two-thirds full. Then, pack down into cup (will only be about 1/4 full then). Unmold onto baking sheet and gently pat quinoa into a 4-inch-wide patty with spatula. (You may have to kinda slam the cup onto the pan to get them to kind of “pop out”.) Make 3 more quinoa cakes, brushing measure with oil each time. Chill cakes, uncovered, at least 15 minutes.
In the meantime, make the ragout.
Blanch tomatoes in order to remove skin. To do this, cut out core, and score a small X into bottom of tomato with a knife. Submerge into a pot of boiling water for about 10-15 seconds. Remove from water and put into ice bath. When tomatoes are cool enough to handle, remove from water and peel off skin, starting wit the X area. Then, roughly chop tomatoes.
In a large saute pan, heat some olive oil over medium heat. Add eggplant and onion. Season with some salt and pepper. Let cook about 10 minutes. Add wine and let cook down until almost gone. Add tomatoes, roasted red peppers, and broth. Season again as needed. Let cook for another 10 minutes to let juices reduce and flavors come together. Add herbs and let cook another minute or two.
To cook the quinoa cakes:
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until it shimmers. Carefully add quinoa cakes and cook, turning once carefully and adding remaining 2 to 3 tablespoons oil, until crisp and golden, 8 to 10 minutes total (pat cakes to reshape with cleaned rubber spatula while cooking if necessary). Transfer to plates. Top with ragout and crumbled feta.