Eggplant Ragout over Thin Spaghetti

It's been hot here. Really hot. I say I love the heat, but I live in Minnesota - what do I know about heat? Yet, all this past week the temperature was around 100 degrees Fahrenheit with a heat index of around 115. Nuts. 

I tried to do things outside...a walk to the grocery store, a bike ride, relaxing on my balcony. I usually didn't last long. And when I came inside, I was drenched with sweat. It was so frustrating! The weather looked beautiful but was miserable. Finally, yesterday we had some relief. The high was only in the low 90s (isn't it crazy that I think the low 90s is cool?) and the heat index dropped significantly. 

In this kind of heat, I don't like to cook much. I have air conditioning, but my body just craves cucumbers. In vinegar, salt, and water mixture. Don't ask me how many I ate over the last week... 

Now that it has cooled down a bit, I am more in the mood to cook warmer foods. I even drank a warm chai tea latte today. :)

One of my favorite go-to dishes is a ragout. Ragout comes from the French word meaning to revive the taste. A ragout is simply a stew of flavor-packed vegetables (and/or meat). I love ragouts because they are simple, easy, and versatile. 

This Eggplant Ragout tasted fantastic served over some thin spaghetti. I also served a tangy coleslaw on the side. Instead of using mayonnaise for the coleslaw dressing, I used mustard and cut the calories significantly while boosting the flavor. Add some pickled jalapeƱos and that coleslaw could not be tamed. Delicious.

Feel free to substitute other fresh vegetables you have around in this ragout. Keep in mind that one of the veggies should be fairly hardy, like a potato, eggplant, mushroom, and the like. I like ragouts that put a spotlight on one primary veggie and then the rest of the veggies work to complement it. 

I should also note that I used Quorn Naked Chik'n Cutlets in this ragout. These are fake chicken made primarily from fungi instead of soy or wheat gluten. I've been loving these right now as they are super easy to cook up and add to salads during the week. They tasted phenomenally in the ragout - by far my favorite way to eat them! 

Eggplant Ragout
6 servings, 30 minutes

1 eggplant
2 Quorn Naked Chik'n Cutlets
1 cup onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 can tomatoes, fire roasted and diced
2 green bell peppers, chopped
1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
  1. Cut off the ends of the eggplant. Using a vegetable peeler, slice off the bitter peeling. Slice in 1/2 inch thick slices and lightly salt to extract extra juices (this will help maintain a solid texture and remove any remaining bitterness). Lightly coat the cutlets with 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil. 
  2. Heat a grill to medium heat. Cook the cutlets for about 7 minutes on each side. Cook the eggplant for about 3-4 minutes each side. The cutlets should be warm throughout. The eggplant should be soft, but not mushy. Coarsely chop both and set aside.
  3. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook gently until onions begin to brown - about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or two. Add the fresh and canned tomatoes and bell peppers. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until softened. 
  4. Stir in the eggplant, cutlets, and parsley. Cook another 5-10 minutes to let the flavors meld. Taste. Adjust the seasoning. Serve over thin spaghetti or your favorite pasta.

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