Being on a vegan kick, I’m always on the outlook for new ideas, new recipes and new flavors. But I’m not about to go shopping for every single meal. If I’ve got something in the pantry or the fridge, I’ll find a way to use that first. So last night, I opened the refrigerator and spied eggplants, along with a bunch of other vegetables. I couldn’t find a recipe to suit my taste or mood, so I realized it was time to get the creative juice flowing.
Oh boy, did it flow! Just cutting up the fresh produce got me excited, wondering what the end product would look like. Would the flavors explode in my mouth, or would it subtly send me swooning for more ? Or would I chalk it up to yet another recipe that just didn’t wow me? Oh the anticipation as I chopped, diced and squeezed what I had before me into a bowl.
I have to admit that as I prepared to take this dish out of the oven, I nearly lost it. Somehow I pulled the racks from underneath the casserole pan. So you can only imagine what a sight I was, when my mother walked in. I had both hands in the oven (I had mitts on!), half kneeling, half sprawled on the floor, wondering whether I should stick my arm in further to save the dish. I was paranoid about dropping the glass pan. Or burning myself. Fortunately we were able to save it, losing a few pieces to the fiery furnace. After we took a breather, my mother looked at me and shook her head. Why was I so willing to risk hurting myself, after all who cares about a glass pan? My response was simply this: I gotta know what it tastes like!
I just had to know.
And boy, was it worth it! Even my mother, who grew up not fond of eggplants or fresh mint was pleasantly surprised by this creation of mine. So, it can be rewarding when you just stand in your kitchen and try to come up with ways to use what you have! Sure, there’s going to be times where you’ll think, “what the heck did I just do?” Been there, done that. Had to dump a few dishes that way. Normally I prefer just eating it, even if it isn’t that great. But I’ve had a few that was just plain nasty. But this one… was delicious!
Eggplant-Cantaloupe Salad with Fresh Mint
1 eggplant, sliced and quartered
8 garlic cloves, minced (or 1 TBSP)
2 cup cantaloupe, chopped
3 jalapeno, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
juice of 1 lime
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped, separated
1.) Combine olive oil, spices, juices, and broth in a bowl. Toss in vegetables, including mint (save 1 TBSP for later). Let it marinate for 30 minutes.
2.) Set the oven to broil, and set up the rack to the top position.
3.) Pour the content of the bowl into a glass casserole pan, and put on the rack. Divide the pan in thirds, so broil one 1/3 for 2 minutes, then move it to the center for another 2 minutes, and the last for an additional 2 minutes (so you can get the grilled taste without having to use the actual grill).
4.) Take it out, let cool briefly so it won’t burn your mouth. Add the remaining mint and serve with rice!
The first bite I took was delightful, the sweetness from the cantaloupe bursting in my mouth, with a hint of fire from the jalapeno and the sturdiness yet delicateness of the eggplant all merging together. I went back for seconds. I also had some leftovers today, cold. Still tasted great. I’m definitely making this again!
Now my next challenge is to make something that I can bring along on a camping trip. Oh the possibilities..!