This braised dish fell together, almost by itself, just from what was in the pantry and fridge. I love the way eggplant melts down to taste and feel very meaty. The addition here of the fennel, instead of celery, adds a bit more flavor interest. You can spice it up with the jalapeno and red pepper flakes if you must, and I must, but it tastes good without them. just a touch of sweetener removes any possible bitterness. I don't know a good substitute for the Zatar and it is a major component here so well worth locating - try Fairway and Kalustyans or any Middle Eastern grocery. Some friends had raved about Trader Joe's frozen artichoke pieces so I bought some. Right they are. Sometimes frozen artichoke hearts still have tough outer leaves but these do not. A few squirts of lemon and a dash of finishing salt add mouth-watering appeal. It's not a pretty dish - very dark - so you will need to garnish it well. Worth the effort.
©2010 Phyllis Segura
2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, large dice
1 medium eggplant, large dice
1 fennel bulb, large dice
leafy part of fennel tops, chopped
10-12 artichoke pieces, Trader Joe’s frozen artichokes
2-3 garlic cloves, sliced
½ cup diced sundried tomatoes in oil
3-4 tablespoon flat-leafed parsley, chopped, plus more for garnish
1 jalapeno, seeds removed and diced (optional)
2 teaspoons Syrian Zatar
red pepper flakes
honey or agave nectar
fresh lemon juice
Saute the onion in the heated olive oil. Add the eggplant and fennel with some of the chopped leafy part of the tops, then the garlic pieces. Add the sundried tomatoes and some of the oil, and all of the artichokes. Stir and toss to get all the pieces amalgamated, oiled and heated. Stir in a sprinkle of the Zatar and few red pepper flakes, the chopped parsley, and a squirt or two of honey or agave nectar, your choice. Add a pinch of salt. Stir well for about 2-3 minutes.
Add about ¼ cup of water then lower the heat and cover to let the vegetables steam briefly. Either continue cooking slowly on top of the stove or place in a
300˚F. oven well covered for about 1-1-1/2 hours to braise slowly.
Taste and season.
Serve hot or room temperature with a squirt or two of fresh lemon juice and some freshly chopped parsley.
*Juggle: rearrange adroitly
This is what Eggplant Juggle looks like with a wreath of parsley and lemon.