There's a first time for everything. Our first steps, first kiss, first day of school, first love, first car, first job, first bungee jump, first trip abroad, first time stuck in an elevator for 30 minutes, first oyster, or first bout with food poisoning.
If we repeat an experience, it’s never the same as the first time. It couldn’t be, a repeatable first is by definition an oxymoron.
Then there are those firsts that we would gladly avoid repeating (put being stuck in an elevator and food poisoning on that list for me.)
Sometimes we learn a lesson from our firsts and sometimes we don’t.
First times in cooking can be awesomely atrocious.
Your first failed attempt to make macarons, that time you made a bouillabaisse that smelled like rotten fish, not to mention the ‘pie in a blender’ disaster.
Other times instead, they are major successes. Like making quinoa in one pot, spiralizing zucchini, or baking a paleo cookie in a mug.
Then one day you stumble upon a recipe that calls for “grated tomatoes” and you suddenly realize that you have spent all your life in a dark cave.
A place where tomatoes were sliced, chopped, peeled, pureed, sauced, roasted, fried even blended but never grated.
Seriously guys, this was my first time grating a tomato.
It almost felt like bungee jumping, minus the screaming.
And just like bungee jumping grating tomatoes is awesome.
It yields a pure pulp perfectly suited to so many uses. You can whisk the results into vinaigrettes, salsas, and gazpacho, or make tomato jam.
The slightly chunky pulp also works well in sauces, frittatas, and as a sandwich topper. There’s no peeling or chopping required.
Or you can make this fantastic Tomato and Eggplant Compote.
It literally takes 15 minutes to make it. It’s so easy, I couldn’t actually believe it.
And it’s so delicious.
It could be served as an appetizer with crostini or pita chips. It complements perfectly a flank-steak, but it makes an equally delicious topping for grilled pork chops or bruschetta.
Or you can do like me, and eat it by the spoonful when no one’s watching!
Makes about 3 cups
1 ½ lbs / 680 gr eggplant (about 2 medium), peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
3 medium tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, minced
¾ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon sweet paprika
4 tablespoons tomato sauce
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
Zest of ½ lemon
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
Heat 1-inch of water in a large pan over medium-high heat, place a steamer basket inside the pan and set the diced eggplant in it.
Cover and steam the eggplant until tender, about 12 minutes. Drain well.
In the meantime, cut tomatoes in half across the width. Grate the meat side of the tomato using a coarse vegetable grater over a bowl or measuring cup (or a strainer over the bowl or cup), grating as close to the skin as possible (be careful not to grate skin though). Discard tomato skin.
In a large skillet combine grated tomatoes, garlic, cumin, and paprika. Simmer over medium heat until thickened, 5 minutes.
Add tomato sauce and steamed eggplant, and cook - gently stirring a few times - until the eggplant is flavored with the sauce, about 5 minutes (you’ll know you’re done when the eggplant begins to stick to the pan).
Remove from the heat and stir in the vinegar. Season with salt and pepper, add lemon zest, cilantro, parsley, and stir to combine.
Serve warm or at room temperature.
The whole batch yields 291 calories, 2 grams of fat, 47 grams of carbs, and 13 grams of protein.