Eggplant ProvencaleThe only coaxing I needed to make this recipe, was the use of the combined terms of “casserole” and “eggplant.” The “Eggplant Provencale,” from the September 1998 issue of Vegetarian Times, was an amazingly delicious meal, without the typical copious use of olive oil (although I did indeed drizzle a bit of olive oil in the pan to cook the onions and garlic for 3 minutes). Two pounds of eggplant, two bell peppers, and one-and-one-half tomatoes were a lot of vegetables to fill up my skillet. I used green garlic-stuffed olives and added 2 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. black pepper to my herb mix. I covered and cooked this mixture for 8 minutes.

The breadcrumb topping was perfectly textured -- an ideal combination of crumbs, cheese, and butter. After baking for 30 minutes, we enjoyed a super casserole.

Couscous and Cucumber SaladI also made the “Couscous and Cucumber Salad,” from All Recipes, customized for 4 servings. This was a bright, lemony salad, though unspectacular. I used 2 scallions and served the salad on Swiss chard leaves (rather than on lettuce). I chilled the salad for 2 hours 15 minutes, before enjoying it with my casserole.

RECIPES: if you’re a casserole lover (like me), you must try this one; couscous is always a blank slate -- see what a salad can do
due to all the vegetable chopping, the casserole will likely take more than 1 hour; the couscous salad is quickly assembled and can chill while you’re making the other stuff
fantastic eggplant/peppers/tomatoes with a crumbly topping, paired with the basic clean lemon flavors of the couscous salad

Next time, I want to cook another feel-good meal. I’ll make “Sauteed Lemon Chicken Strips,” from the October 2008 Notes from the Test Kitchen, from Cook’s Illustrated. Return to my site on Wednesday, January 14, to see my results.