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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

WOAH, what happened? I'm in Cairo!! Eggplant-couscous marinara

Well, I have neglected you little blog.  In some kind of whirlwind adventure, I find myself writing from my office in Cairo, Egypt where I am supposed to be working. I'm here for a short term contract...well, it was supposed to be short-term, but now it's looking a little longer term than originally planned. I think I might just finish out 2011 here! I am missing Berlin and my dear Roddy, but for now I am happy in this new adventure.  Not only a living and working adventure, but a cooking one too!! The cooking adventure is this: I am trying to buy locally grown produce. Locally as in the region, not necessarily Egyptian, but I generally shop in the street markets, so I just guess it's local?

The challenge is creativity.  There are a few key items that I can buy that always look good and fresh: eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes and onions. Peppers a lot of the time. I can honestly say that I've eaten more eggplant and zucchini in the last 2.5 months than I usually do in a year. Anyway, I wasn't blogging because I just haven't been super inspired... until last night!

I started out trying to make an eggplant rollatini thing, but using the recipe I found on VeggieBelly. I really love her blog! Anyway, obviously I can't cook like her, and my friend Heather and I improvised a little bit. The eggplants I bought were too short, (and I cut them too thick..ooops!) to roll. So we kind of made this eggplant couscous lasagne type thing, which was sooooo good, if I say so myself. I feel like since I had help, I"m not being completely arrogant.

Anyway, I only decided to blog this on the spur of the moment, so if I wanted to capture it on photo I would have to take pictures of the insides of Heather and my bellies.  SICK.

Here is the recipe, for those daring people out there who don't need a photo to be tempted into making something!!

Eggplant-Couscous Marinara


Marinara Sauce
1.5 onions
5 garlic cloves
10 tomatoes (or 1-2 cans of tomatoes)
Italian spices (mine are unlabelled!! so I'm guessing they were oregano and thyme..:)
Salt and pepper
Pinch of sugar
1/2 -1 cup water

2 cups couscous
4 cups water
1/2 cup feta type cheese (it's not feta that I used but my arabic is crap and it tastes like a cousin of feta)

2 eggplants
3/4 cup grated cheese


I started with the marinara sauce. I didn't chop things too finely because I knew I would be blending before I added it to the mixture. If you're not blending, chop finely.  Start with some olive oil, add onions and then garlic, then tomatoes and spices/sugar and simmer for as long as it takes you to make everything else, adding bits of water as it gets thicker. When everything else is finished, blend er up!!

The couscous can be made at anytime, just boil the water and add it to the couscous in a pot or bowl. Leave it until all the water is absorbed, then fluff it up. Cut up the feta family cheese into chunks, or crumble, and stir into couscous.

Slice the eggplant into slices, to your desired thickness, and pan fry in a tiny bit of olive oil. Fry them like burgers, so that each one has it's place in the pan, and so you'll have to do a few batches.

THEN. Assemble.  Spoon a small amount of sauce in a pan. Depending on the size of the pan (I used one that was WAY too big), you can have one layer of each, or more lasagne like, with a few different layers. Anyway, it goes eggplant, couscous, marinara sauce. Then grated cheese on top.


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