The farmers' market was practically bursting with vegetables of every hue on a recent weekend visit. It made shopping for dinner so easy, as everything seemed like it would go together. I zeroed in on eggplant as the star, then figured what would go with it. How about those bulb onions and those neon green Melrose peppers? Aren't they early this year?
An herb to enliven the whole - oregano would be a change of pace - then all I needed was a protein. I settled on pork, but chicken would do well. Or the dish easily could have remained vegetarian, maybe served over protein-rich quinoa.
I kept the onions in large chunks, instead of a small dice, as I wanted them to partner as a featured element with the eggplant. Their relative youth made for a mild, sweet flavor. The vegetables, with the help of wine, softened to a slightly soupy consistency, creating their own deeply flavored sauce. And the very thin-bodied Melrose peppers, sautéed briefly right at the end, provided crunch and vibrant color.
Eggplant with Pork, Onions, Peppers
Makes 4 servings
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more if needed
1 large eggplant or 2 medium, about 1 pound, cut in 3/4-inch cubes
3 bulb onions, cut in 1/2-inch slices or chunks
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound boneless pork, such as loin or sirloin chops, in 3/4-inch cubes
3/4 cup dry white wine or chicken broth
4 Melrose peppers, sliced lengthwise in thin strips
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or chives
1. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet; add the eggplant and onions. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring often, until the vegetables begin to soften, 10 minutes. Transfer vegetables to a bowl.
2. Add remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil to the skillet. Add the pork; cook, stirring as needed, until all sides begin to color, 5 minutes.
3. Return eggplant and onion to skillet; add the wine. Reduce heat to a simmer. Cook, covered, just until pork is tender and cooked through, 3-5 minutes. Season with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Transfer all to a bowl.
4. Add pepper strips to skillet; increase heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring, until just beginning to softened, 1-2 minutes. (The peppers should remain crisp.)
5. Stir peppers and oregano into the pork and vegetables. Serve over rice, if you like.
Note: Another variety of small sweet pepper can be subbed for the Melrose peppers.
Per serving: 305 calories, 17 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 77 mg cholesterol, 11 g carbohydrates, 27 g protein, 350 mg sodium, 5 g fiber.