Here’s the Velvet Underground with Sweet Jane, because I’m currently obsessed with it, and because you could be a clerk and still make art.
2 medium sized eggplants, tops cut off, skin pierced here and there
1/2 cup pistachio kernels
1 clove garlic, roasted
2 t rosemary
3 fresh sage leaves, minced
2 pieces sandwich bread (preferably whole wheat or oatmeal)
1 t baking soda
1/2 cup sharp cheddar, grated
salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper
about 1/4 cup olive oil
You want to cook the eggplant until it’s charred outside and meltingly soft inside. We did this by sticking it right in the middle of a fire in our fire pit for about half an hour. You could also put it on a hot grill or roast it for about 45 minutes to an hour. Obviously, the more fire involved, the smokier it will taste in the end. When it’s very soft, remove from the heat and let cool and drain in a colander. Peel, roughly chop, and pop it in the food processor.
Add the nuts, herbs, cheese, egg, garlic, bread, salt, pepper, and baking soda and process until the bread and nuts are broken down. But you don’t want it to be completely smooth. A little texture is nice.
Warm the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the eggplant mixture and fry as you might scrambled eggs. When the bottom gets browned, scrape it up and mix it in and let the bottom get browned again. Eventually, when you feel as though everything is cooked through, after ten minutes or so, you can form it into a more cohesive patty, and let the bottom get nice and brown, and then flip it so it gets browned on the other side. You’ll have some nice big chunks and some more crumbly pieces. We ate this with sautéed chard and garlic, tomatoes, basil and mozzarella, and some flatbread I made. It was very good. With the leftovers I made…
Turnovers with eggplant mince, white beans, roasted peppers and olives
2 cups flour
1/2 t salt
lots of black pepper
1 stick (8T) butter, frozen
Mix the flour with the salt and pepper. Grate in the butter and mix with a fork until coarse and crumbly. Add just enough ice water to pull everything into a cohesive ball. Knead briefly, for about one minute. Flatten the ball a bit, wrap in foil, and chill in the fridge for at least half an hour.
2 cups (+/-) eggplant mince
1 can white beans, rinsed and drained
2 smallish leeks, cleaned
1 T butter
1 large red pepper, roasted, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup castelvetrano olives, pitted and roughly chopped
a few ounces sharp cheddar, grated (or more if you like it cheesy)
1 egg, beaten, reserve 1 T to brush on top
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Slice the leeks lengthwise and then cut into 1/8th inch slices. Put these in the butter and fry until they start to brown and wilt. If the pan dries out you can put a splash of water or white wine.
Put everything in a large bowl and mix together. Preheat the oven to 400 and lightly butter a baking sheet. Break off a golf-ball sized piece of dough. Roll it into a circle about 6 inches wide and 1/8th inch thick. Put a heaping spoonful of filling on half of it, leaving about 1/2 inch to the edge. Fold the dough over, seal it with a fork. Place on the baking sheet and brush with a little egg. Prick it in one or two places with the fork. Repeat until all the dough and filling are used up.
Bake for about 20 minutes, until the tops of the empanadas are nicely browned. Let cool slightly, and eat.