Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Odd-and-end pie

It took forever to decide what to have for supper.  The Moon Goddess and I had been shopping in the morning, and at Superstore they had just got in a big shipment of fresh produce which they were in the process of putting out.  Superstore produce, as all Canadians who shop there know, is like the little girl with the little curl...when it's good it's very very good...and it was a really good Superstore day.  Gorgeous shiny purple eggplants, enormous bags of superfresh spinach...it was all...so...irresistible...

So when I got home, of course I had a problem.  I already had a big eggplant that had been in the fridge for a few days, and I was using up the last of another bag of spinach.  What to do?  I pored through books, wrote menus, considered the existing containers of this and that already in the fridge, and finally opted to make something up to use it all in one go.

This is a take on the Eggplant-potato moussaka with pine nut cream from Veganomicon.  Much as I admire the Veganomicon, that particular recipe is problematic--you get too much pine nut cream, not enough vegetables, this, that, so I thought I'd just start building and see what worked.

The original recipe calls for brushing eggplant, zucchini, and potatoes with oil and broiling them separately before layering them into a casserole.  However, I somehow have a problem with this process, don't ask me why; you'll rarely see here a dish where I have to broil slices of anything.  Well, okay, I'll tell you why.  You cut the slices too thick and they don't cook through; cut them too thin, and they shrivel to burnt shreds of nothing.  Run up to check your e-mail and forget about them for a minute or two, and your house fills with smoke, or worse.  Besides, with broiled eggplant slices, especially from the big eggplants, no matter how fresh they are the skin turns out tough and horrible and you end up gagging on strings of skin or pulling them indelicately out of the finished dish on your plate...not that they're even especially delicious, 'cause they're not.  For taste and texture, you're better off broiling the eggplant whole.  But then it turns all soft and gloriously mushy and you can't slice it. 

Enter the revolutionary technique of steaming.  It takes just a fraction of the time of broiling; the slices look good even after they're steamed, and are buttery soft and cooked perfectly through, even the skins.  Yes, it's true.  And there's no smell, no smoke, no crusty burnt pans to deal with afterwards.  So, I steamed them--one whole eggplant, enough small potatoes to cover the bottom of the steamer, and a big bunch of spinach.  I elected not to use zucchini this time. 

While that was happening, I prepared some Indian-spiced tomato sauce by pureeing some leftover Indian tomato-onion condiment-type thing with some leftover canned tomatoes--the little leaves you see below are curry leaves which the immersion blender didn't pick up.  No matter.  I lined my 9" x 9" pan with parchment paper just to see what would happen (don't bother) and spread a little of the sauce at the bottom:


Add a layer of sliced steamed potatoes:


...a layer of tender steamed eggplant:


...a layer of leftover Vegan Brunch omelet mix with a little chaat masala sprinkled on top to compliment the tomato sauce:


...spinach:


...one more layer each of tomato sauce, eggplant and potatoes, and top with half a recipe of pine nut cream:


Cook at 350F for about 45 minutes, until golden:


Let it cool to room temperature before slicing:


Stu-pendous!  It's good cold, too.  And the best part is, you could switch out pretty much all of the ingredients depending on what you had in the fridge--how about sweet potatoes, zucchini, and kale with a thin layer of mango chutney or some other spicy sauce in there; or mushrooms, slices of marinated tofu, mashed potatoes, and chopped broccoli?

One question: have any of you ever tried making this kind of pine nut cream with cashews or almonds?  I'm tempted to try it.  The recipe as is is great, for texture, but I find that for pine nuts I really have to be in the mood...

15 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks, Katee, it was pretty good ;-) And as I say, it was also easy and made of leftovers. Intriguing, no?

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  2. That. Looks. Fabulous!!! I've used cashew cream as a topping in a similar way, and it ends up with a similar texture to what yours looks like in the photo when out of the oven. Is that filo pastry or baking parchment around the sides in the assembly shots?

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    1. Thanks, Rose! I used baking parchment, partly because the only pan I had that was the right size was really ugly, and partly just to see what would happen. Nothing much happened. It would have been okay just using the pan...

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  3. Oooh looks fantastic. I would like to eat this; I would also like a moon Goddess in my life!

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    1. Yes, everybody needs a Moon Goddess. I count myself blessed.

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  4. Wow, that looks so yummy! Love all the layers, it's so pretty! :-)

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    1. Thanks! Thinking about it some more, it's really just a stew, the sort of thing I'd make anytime, only baked in layers, just a little bit more trouble. Kind of like a hot pot is just a soup, cooked all pretty...

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  5. Delicious - like moussaka wonderousness!

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    1. Hi, Joey:

      This is just the sort of comment I most love ;-)

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  6. I LOVE your gorgeous, layered approach — both the recipe you used and the combinations suggested. The mango chutney particularly appeals to me as part of an Indian-flavored dish with potatoes, spinach, lentils and lots of ginger. I think you can use cashews instead of pine nuts, but I can't because I still have the remains of a big Costco bag to get through. It's pine nuts for me for the foreseeable future.

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  7. The stuff you create from leftovers always looks a million times better than what most people serve for special occasions. I like the eggplant steaming idea as well.

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