Monday, January 9, 2012

Eggplant and Buckwheat Sandwich

I was reworking a recipe for Delicious Living Magazine last month, when an interesting thing happened--one of my favorite things, in fact.

My wife had not really liked the original dish I came up with, primarily because she's not a buckwheat fan.
My editor and her testing/tasting team pretty much agreed with my wife's assessment, which is why I was back at the drawing board with it.

I knew I would need to begin the creative process all over again, so I  threw out the entire first recipe and took off in a new direction.

I decided to keep tomato in the picture, to challenge the buckwheat's firm footing--in effect, to upstage it and let it take a less prominent role. I made an abbreviated form of ratatouille, with onions, peppers, garlic, eggplant, and tomato--not the traditional way, sauteing each vegetable separately, but a much quicker way, sauteing them together, and then adding the tomato at the end. Once the vegetables were tender and the flavors had melded and concentrated, I added the cooked buckwheat and adjusted the seasoning. Then I roasted thin slices of eggplant, cut lengthwise, and used them as "bread" to make "sandwiches." To serve, I placed the hot sandwiches on plates, drizzled some oregano oil on either side, and sprinkled chopped parsley generously about.

This time I didn't even tell my wife what it was, but simply presented her with the finished dish, calling it an "eggplant sandwich." This time she gave my invention high marks, and asked what the filling was. That's the interesting thing I mentioned above, indeed something I've built a career on: a complete reversal of food aversion, by virtue of an unusual context. This is a fun thing, but it also provides tremendous benefit, enabling people to redefine their likes and dislikes--essentially retraining their desires--in order to enjoy eating a wider range of foods. In the case of buckwheat, I found at least one way for my wife--and, I hope, a lot of other people--to appreciate a highly nutritious whole grain.

I consider this a very encouraging sign, because it means that if I can just present plant-based foods in just the right way, I can help unlimited numbers of people to eat more of them with pleasure. I'm not out to convert anyone to anything, but if they're open to expanding their horizons, I love to provide them with an enjoyable landing place.

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