Incredibly aromatic eggplant in tomato sauce, a vegan stew that you will make over and over again. Melt-in-your-mouth eggplant slices stewed in a full-flavored tomato sauce.
Why are stews so great?
- Romanians like stews, we can pretty much stew anything, I don't think there is any vegetable sort or meat cut that hasn't been stewed at one point or another. I could not really say why, but I suppose it has to do with the convenience of stewing.
- One pot and one source of heat and that might be a reason why stewing has become the number one way of preparing food in Romania over the centuries or thousands of years.
- Cheap and quick, you can throw just about anything you have in one pot, stir a little and get a delicious meal made out of very few ingredients, things that are in season or you happen to have in your house or garden, without the need of going out shopping for anything special.
- And if you like eggplants, try the Romanian Aubergine Salad - Vinete, Zacusca, or these amazing Spaghetti with Eggplants.
How to make?
The eggplant in tomato sauce is a typical Romanian vegetable stew, eaten a lot not only during the fasting times but mostly in summer when the eggplants fill the markets. I stewed them in the Basic Tomato Sauce from Thursday, but if you choose not to make your own tomato sauce, you can use your favorite brand of tomato/marinara sauce.
The ingredients indicated make 2 large jars. You will only need about 250 ml/ 8.5 fl. oz/ 1 cup for the eggplant stew.
- Chop 1 medium onion and 4 large garlic cloves finely. Keep them separated.
- Heat 2 tablespoons olive or sunflower oil in a large saucepan and cook the onions until translucent.
- Combine: Add the garlic, stir it shortly in the pan. Add 2 cans (400 g/ 14 oz each) chopped tomatoes. Add the 1 pack pureed tomatoes (500 g/ 17.6 oz), 2 tablespoons tomato paste, 1 tablespoon dried savory/thyme/oreganio/Italian herbs/Herbes de Provence, 2 bay leaves, 1 teaspoon sugar, about ½ teaspoon fine sea salt and black pepper.
- Cook: Bring to a boil and cook on a medium-high flame for about 20 minutes.
- Simmer: Turn the heat a bit down and continue cooking for about 15 minutes until the sauce has a nice, thicker consistency. Adjust the taste with salt, pepper or a bit more sugar, if necessary.
- Blend: Remove the bay leaves from the sauce and puree the sauce with a blender, according to your preference, you can make it as smooth as you like it.
- Makes about 2 jars, depending on their size, which keep in the fridge for about one week. To keep it longer freeze the jars.
- Prepare vegetables: Slice the eggplants into 1.5 cm/ 0.6 inches. Place them in a colander and sprinkle them with salt. Leave to stand for half an hour, rinse shortly and dry thoroughly on kitchen paper.
- Fry first batch: Heat half of the oil in a large skillet or non stick pan. Fry half of the eggplant slices, about 3 minutes on each side or until golden and soft. Remove.
- Second batch: Heat the remaining oil and fry the second batch of eggplant slices. Remove.
- Add the garlic, stir for 1 or 2 seconds. Add the tomato sauce, water, tomato paste and some salt and pepper to taste. Stir well to dissolve the tomato paste and arrange the eggplants slices back into the pan. Carefully cover with the sauce.
- Cook gently on medium low heat and covered for about 10 minutes, remove the lid and continue cooking for another 5 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken a little. Stir a couple of times in between, but very gently.
How to serve?
- The recipe for eggplant in tomato sauce serves two as a main dish with bread or potatoes, for instance or a 4 as a side dish.
- In Romania we would serve this dish with white bread.
- However, mashed potatoes, boiled potatoes, bulgur, couscous, or pasta are great as well.
- Serve a green salad on the side.
- The eggplant stew in tomato sauce can also be served as a side dish for grilled meats, fish or chicken.
More vegetable stew recipes:
- Cauliflower in Tomato Sauce - one of my favorite cauliflower recipes, you definitely have to try it.
- Potato Stew with Sausages and Vegetables - another typical Romanian stew.
- Spicy Cabbage Turmeric Stew - a simple cabbage stew with unusual spices.
- Leek and Black Lentil Stew - probably my favorite vegetable stew, you won't believe how delicious this is.
- 2 eggplants 200 g/ 7 oz each
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 large garlic cloves
- 250 ml/ 8.5 fl.oz/ 1 cup tomato or marinara sauce See note
- 150 ml/ 5 fl. oz/ ⅔ cup water more if the sauce seems too thick
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 small bunch of parsley
- Slice the eggplants into 1.5 cm/ 0.6 inches. Place them in a colander and sprinkle them with salt. Leave to stand for half an hour, rinse shortly and dry thoroughly on kitchen paper.
- Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a large cast-iron skillet or a large non-stick pan. Fry half of the eggplants, in one layer, for about 3 minutes on each side or until nicely golden and pretty soft. Remove from the pan. Add the other 3
tablespoons oil to the pan and fry the second batch of eggplant slices. Remove from the pan as well.
- Grate the garlic cloves. Add them to the pan, stir once quickly. They will not need more time as the pan is already so hot, you don't want to burn them.
- Immediately add the tomato sauce, water, tomato paste, and some salt and pepper to taste. Stir well to dissolve the tomato paste and arrange the eggplant slices back into the pan.
- Spoon some of the sauce over them, very gently, so that they are covered in sauce. Take care not to break them. Turn the heat down to medium-low and cover the pan with a lid.
- Cook gently for about 10 minutes, remove the lid, and continue cooking for another 5 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken a little. Stir a couple of times in between, but very gently.
- Sprinkle the dish with the chopped parsley and serve with bread or potatoes.