Summer stew with white beans, potatoes, crispy eggplant and basil-pistachio pesto

Summer stew with white beans, potatoes and tomatoes

Summer stew with white beans, potatoes and tomatoes

This morning Malcolm and I went out for a long walk on the tow path. He told me about a dream he’d had. The water turned to air and the air turned to water. So the fish swam in air below us, and we walked through water as though we were flying. There were strange creatures in the water that we moved through: tadpoles with teeth, ducks with oddly shaped wings, lizards with tongues longer than their bodies that lived on our backs and were our friends. In this new world we walked though forests of “wimping trees,” that had fallen over, swooning, and were easy for us to climb. The water rose up into space, but an evil wizard had rented out all of space, so there was no space for rent, no space for rent. As we walked it became less the memory of a dream and more the telling of a story. We saw a clicking kingfisher and a bright swooping gold finch. I was hazy from sleep and felt that I might be moving through water, rippling with Malcolm’s words of a world turned upside down. The trees and bushes had bright flashes of crimson and pale gold, which seems too early but is not unwelcome.

So today’s interactive playlist is on the subject of dreams. Songs about dreams, or songs that that just seem dreamy. Add them to the list yourself, or leave a comment and I’ll try to remember to add them through the week.

Basil pistachio pesto

Basil pistachio pesto

This is my favorite kind of meal! Something saucy and flavorful made from potatoes, eggplant, tomatoes and herbs fresh from the farm, with a big loaf of crusty bread to mop up the sauces. I served olives, grated mozzarella, pesto and crispy eggplant on the side, to add as you like. I used french-lentil cooking broth, but you could use a simple vegetable broth or even water, and it would still have nice flavor.

Here’s a link to the dreamy interactive playlist.

2 T olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 t chives, minced
4 or 5 small potatoes, scrubbed or peeled and diced
1 can white beans, rinsed and drained
1 green pepper, seeded, trimmed and diced quite fine
1/3 cup white wine
fresh herbs…sage, rosemary, thyme…about 1 t each or to taste
4 or 5 medium-sized tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 cups broth or lentil cooking water, or water
1 t raw sugar (optional)
1 T butter
juice of one lemon
salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper

To serve: chopped pitted olives, grated mozzarella, pesto, and crispy eggplant.

Warm the olive oil in a large soup or stew pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and chives, and then add the potatoes. Stir and cook until they start to turn golden and soften. Add the beans and pepper, stir and cook. Add the white wine, and use it to scrape the bottom of the pot. Cook until the wine is reduced and syrupy. Add the herbs, tomatoes and broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until the potatoes are just as soft as you like them. Taste the broth…depending on how sweet your tomatoes are, you might want to add a teaspoon of raw sugar or brown sugar. When the potatoes are just as cooked as you like them, add butter and lemon juice. Season well with salt and pepper, and serve with condiments listed above and some crusty bread.

CRISPY EGGPLANT

THE EGGPLANT

1 largish eggplant or 2 skinny ones
1 T balsamic
2 T olive oil
rosemary
basil
sage
1/2 eggs
2 slices whole wheat bread
1 cup flour
salt
pepper
herbs (thyme, rosemary, oregano)

Olive oil for the sheets.

Peel four long slices of skin, lengthwise, and then cut the eggplant in 1/4 inch slices.

Put the slices in a shallow dish and shake some salt over them. Leave them for at least 1/2 hour, and then try to blot up the eggplant juices that the salt has brought out.

Put the olive oil and cup balsamic over the eggplant, and add the herbs. (Use more or less oil & vinegar depending on the size of your eggplant) Turn them from time to time, to be sure that every surface gets a chance to soak up the marinade. Leave for at least 1/2 hour.

Preheat the oven to 425. Put a thin layer of oil on a baking sheet.

Beat an egg in a small bowl. Combine flour, bread, herbs, and pepper in a food processor, and process till coarse and crumbly. Pour about 1/2 the egg over the eggplant, and turn each piece to be sure it’s coated. Pour the crumb mixture over, and, again, turn each piece to be sure it’s coated. Place the eggplant in a single layer on the baking sheet.

Bake for about 1/2 hour, turning the slices every once in a while, until they are browned and crispy.

BASIL-PISTACHIO PESTO

1/3 cup pistachio kernels
1 clove garlic, roasted or toasted
1/3 cup olive oil
2 t capers
2 cups basil leaves, cleaned and picked over
1 t balsamic
salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper

In a blender or food processor, combine the nuts and garlic. Process till coarse and crumbly. Add the olive oil and capers, and process till fairly smooth. Add the basil and balsamic, process till even smoother. Add enough water (up to 1 cup, but start with less) to make it as smooth and thin as you like it. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

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