Ker-plunk! That is the sound of winter falling in Hobart, with (finally) some decent rain. We’ve had a couple of frosts in my area already, and some gloomy grey days, but up until recently it’s been fairly mild and dry. Not anymore. Ten, eleven, twelve degrees. No sun. And wet stuff, glorious wet stuff. All the gardeners are rejoicing, even if it means we’re stuck inside all weekend.
Weather is a guaranteed conversation started down here. We compare rain gauge readings. We play ‘Guess what winter will be’: after a frost, we’re convinced it’s going to be a long cold winter. A few days of sunshine and temperatures above 15 - it’s going to be a mild winter. But someone heard the man on the radio say it’s going to be a cold winter… Perhaps all you can say is that it’s going to be an ‘up and down’ winter? What you can say with certainty is that it will be a long winter – the season usually stretches on til November, no matter what the weather conditions are.
For this kind of weather, you need something substantial but not stodgy. Something to warm you thru, full of good stuff. Something to keep you going – because, obviously, you’re using lots of energy reading magazines on the couch or boiling the kettle for yet another cup of tea. You need to keep your strength up! This is a lovely dish to make on a wet, slow weekend while you listen to the rain fall.
Eggplant, bean + sweet potato bake
Adapted from a Nigel Slater recipe, found here. I’ve given you quantities but it’s really the kind of easy dish that doesn’t mind too much what you do. Instead of the rosemary you could probably use hotter flavourings like chili or smoky paprika for some winter warmth.
- Preheat oven to 180.
- First, take one eggplant (mine weighed about 350 gms) and one sweet potato (mine was about 250 gms) and cut into small pieces about 1.5 cm square. Place on a baking tray. Finely chop some fresh rosemary (enough to get a couple of good pinches’ worth) and scatter over the veg. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with some S&P, then roast for 40 minutes or until just soft.
- For the next step, if you have a casserole/baking dish that can be used on both the stovetop and in the oven, do use that; otherwise use a large frypan. So, chop an onion or leek and a couple of garlic cloves, and fry gently in a little oil. Don’t allow this to get golden or crispy; cover with a lid if necessary to steam and stay soft.
- Once softened, add a 400 gm tin of tomatoes and a 400 gm tin of borlotti beans (or other preferred kind) and bring to a simmer. Leave at a gentle simmer until the oven veg are ready.
- Once the eggplant and sweet potato are done, mix these into your tomato bean mix (keep the oven going). If you need to, transfer the mix to a casserole dish.
- Scatter with some panko and/or normal breadcrumbs (I used some I’d made from wholegrain bread for lovely colour and texture) and zest a lemon over.
- Return to oven and bake for 40 minutes or until bubbling away nicely.
Lunch is served. Funky napkin made from Frangipani Fabrics cloth