Ah. The Solanaceae family. The alkaloids present in this tribe can bring about good, bad, and ugly effects.
Toxic: form of green potatoes or night berries.
Stress-inducing: form of herpes outbreaks or swollen joints.
Intoxicating: form of wild tobacco.
Curative: form of Homeopathic Belladona.
Here's what I joyously slammed out one day while Dash and Bella hung out at school. I had a lot to do. And as lovely as my children are, I didn't want them in the way.
Dash and Bella contributed when they came home from school. With chalk. With drama. With excitement. With a punch to the chest (Dash to Bella). With a wow (Dash). A yummy (Bella!). An onslaught of blechs and yucks (from both). And a hella loud and teary I-won't-eat-that-eggplant-for-dinner-no-way-that's-disgusting (Bella to me with hands firmly planted on hips). A balls-out confirmation that I'm not doing this cooking thing in a vacuum. I'm living it with two little explorers who will forever keep me on my toes. Even if I send them away for a few hours during the day, they will come back and get their fingers, and opinions, and creativity into everything. Lucky me.
No recipe links in this post. Just a smattering of thoughts about each dish. There are no right ways to cook nightshades. Play around if you can. That's all I did. Taste, touch, see, sense, hear, smell, lick, feed, slurp, share, freeze.
QUICK TOMATO SAUCE (LEMON + GARLIC): Preheat oven to 325°F. Season cored whole tomatoes with salt, pepper, and minimal olive oil. Tuck unpeeled garlic cloves into tomatoes bodies. Bake until the tomatoes are softened, blackened, and swimming in their own juices. I threw the results into a Ziploc bag along with the contents of each garlic clove (squirted out) and roasted eggplant (see below). Bella enthusiastically pounded and mushed it all together in the bag. It's in the freezer for December.
LEMON, GARLIC, AND ANCHOVY POTATOES: I did a lime variation of this last month. This time I used lemon. Preheat oven to 350°F. Peel and slice the yukon gold potatoes (1/2" wide) and place them in a baking dish. Coat them with lots of salt, pepper, and olive oil. Toss in a few rosemary branches and a lemon (or two) cut into eighths (remove as many seeds as you can). In a small pot, boil 10 unpeeled cloves of garlic and a tin of anchovy fillets (plus their oil) for 2 minutes. The mixture will start to snap, crackle, and pop, so stand back. Pour this oily fishy deliciousness over the potatoes. Toss with a spoon until evenly coated. Cover tightly with a lid or tin foil. Cook until potatoes are tender. 45 minutes or so. You can leave them pale and tender. Or you can broil them up for a few minutes until crispy. Eat right away. Or make a tart with puff pastry + sweet red pepper puree + roasted garlic + potato slices.
ROASTED EGGPLANT: Eggplant takes time. Don't compromise and eat spongy eggplant because it's nasty and depressing. Preheat oven to 350°F. Trim off the stems and then cut the eggplants into lengthwise sticks (about 1" or so wide). Lightly coat with salt, pepper, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. Add a thinly sliced onion and a handful of unpeeled garlic cloves. Turn the heat down if it starts to burn. Add more oil as needed. Roast until eggplant is gooey and sweet (at least an hour, maybe more). You can chop this up and add it to your quick tomato sauce (above). Or serve it over lamb chops with some crumbled goat cheese and chopped parsley. It's also lovely folded into couscous.
3-HOUR TOMATOES: Preheat oven to 225°F. Core and halve a mess of (smaller) tomatoes. Coat with salt, pepper, lemon zest, microplane-grated garlic, and olive oil. After 3 hours in the oven, these tomatoes turn into crispy candy cups filled with caramelized tomato pulp reduction. Tart and sweet at the same time.They keep for a few days in the fridge. Or a bit longer packed in olive oil. Or you can freeze them for months. Or, once again, make a tart! Puff pastry (or shortcrust pastry) + a goat cheese base (1 cup goat cheese, 1 egg, 2 tablespoons heavy cream, salt, pepper) + 3-hour tomatoes.
10-HOUR TOMATOES: Yes, they're oven-dried, but they look, feel, and taste just like sun-dried tomatoes. 200°F. Salt, pepper, olive oil. Check them after 8 hours. Drench them in olive oil immediately. You can season the oil with a few peeled whole garlic cloves and thyme branches. Freeze if you don't use it within about 5 days.