Eggplant Stew & Feta Polenta (Vegetarian)
We love this dish because it’s weeknight easy, summery, and light — and yet it has a rich, savory depth. It’s plant-based comfort food. To make it, we sear the eggplant with a little tomato paste, so it caramelizes and gives the sauce some rich depth. And then we douse it with white wine, and stir it through with chunky tomatoes, oregano, and a pinch of sugar to balance out the acids. Served on a creamy bed of feta polenta, it tastes wonderful, like something you’d find on a sun-drenched terrace beside the Mediterranean.
Adding a giant knob of butter and a bunch of crumbled feta to a pot of polenta is a little bit of culinary wizardry. It’s so simple, but it gives the polenta some chewy texture, and more than that, it adds some creamy fat and briny tang. It tastes fantastic, and it pairs perfectly with the bright, herby eggplant and tomatoes.
Our tips: This dish lends itself to scaling and meal-prepping. Like many a stew, it tastes even better on day two, when the flavors have had time to meld. And if you’ve got a full house, the recipe can easily be doubled (or tripled, if you were looking forward to those leftovers).
Servings or yield: 4
⅔ cup vegetable oil
1 medium eggplant, diced, ¾-inch
1 Tbsp tomato paste
¼ cup white wine
1 cup whole peeled tomatoes, chopped
⅓ cup water
¼ tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
¼ tsp sugar
1 Tbsp fresh oregano leaves, roughly chopped
Black pepper, to taste
1 24-oz polenta tube
4 oz feta cheese, crumbled
5 Tbsp unsalted butter, chopped
Fresh parsley, for garnish
Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the eggplant and cook until browned, about 15 minutes. Drain and discard the oil.
Add the tomato paste, stir to coat the eggplant, and cook for 2 minutes over medium heat.
Add the white wine and cook for 1 minute.
Stir in the chopped tomatoes, water, salt, sugar, and oregano, and bring the mixture to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper. Keep warm.
Meanwhile, cook the polenta according to the package instructions.
Stir the feta and butter into the polenta and cook until the butter melts, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Divide the polenta among 4 bowls and spoon the eggplant mixture over the top. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve immediately.
Recipe adapted from: “Plenty” cookbook