Batilgian is the Armenian word for eggplant, and the purple vegetable is the star of this vegetarian stew — a lighter alternative to ratatouille. It can be served hot as a main course or cold as a side dish, and it’s even better the next day, when the flavors have had time to meld.
The recipe comes from the Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant
cookbook, featuring ethnic and regional recipes from the Ithaca, New York, restaurant, a driving force in creative vegetarian cooking for more than 40 years.
Prep Time: 1 hour (including cooking)
- 1 large yellow onion or 2 to 3 small ones
- 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 4 celery stalks, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 cups green beans, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 3 bay leaves
- 3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil, finely chopped
- 1 large eggplant, cut into 1/2- to 1-inch cubes
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 28-ounce can of tomatoes with juice
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons capers (optional)
- Lemon wedges for serving
In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, sauté the onions in 3 tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat until translucent (5 minutes). Stir in the celery, cover and cook for 5 minutes. Add the green beans, bay leaves, garlic and basil. Cover and cook for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the onions from burning.
Without stirring, add the eggplant on top of the other vegetables. Sprinkle the eggplant with salt and pepper and drizzle remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil on top. Pour in the tomatoes and their juice. The liquid will not quite cover the eggplant at first, but eventually the eggplant will release its juices and cook down.
Cover tightly and simmer on low heat for 20 minutes. Occasionally stir carefully to prevent the vegetables from sticking to the bottom and burning, but be sure to keep the eggplant from moving to the bottom of the pot before it has softened and released its juices.
After 20 minutes, mix the eggplant into the stew. Cover the saucepan, and simmer until the eggplant is very tender and dark. Add more salt and pepper to taste, plus lemon juice and capers if you like. (The capers add a nice briny flavor to the dish).
Cook for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, until the vegetables are tender and the liquid has thickened slightly.
Remove the bay leaves, and serve the stew immediately with a wedge of lemon to squeeze on top. Alternatively, chill the stew in the refrigerator in a covered container. Reheat the stew on low or serve cold.
Nutrition Information (per serving)
- Calories: 170
- Total Fat: 12 g
- Saturated Fat: 1.5 g
- Cholesterol: 0 mg
- Sodium: 210 mg
- Total Carbohydrate: 17 g
- Dietary Fiber: 6 g
- Sugars: 7 g
- Protein: 3 g