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spiced tomato eggplant stew

It was 12:24pm. I was watering the hillside when Cynthia approached from across the garden, leading a visitor on a tour of the farm. “Give it three more minutes,” she called up to me, “You need some lunch.” Five minutes later, hose coiled, I was sprinting up the hill to the cottage with the kind of ravenous look one generally associates with lost backpackers emerging from the woods (or maybe seagulls).

As a farm apprentice you don’t feel like lunch, you don’t even want it—you need it. Sometime after noon the seven of us converge on the cottage kitchen, grabbing food from the fridge and unceremoniously clattering plates and cutlery in our haste. Leftovers are the golden ticket—a quick spin in the microwave and you’re through your first three bites before you’ve even taken a breath.

My history with leftovers is rich and varied, beginning with classmates’ wrinkled noses when I opened my Tupperware at school and carrying all the way through college, when I cooked Fridays and Mondays and ate my curries and soups with relish for three days straight. I’ve always been of the opinion that the worse leftovers look the better they taste, and it’s only a handful of times (notably the week-old burrito incident) that my theory has proved wrong. Today, however, I can proudly declare my leftovers have entered a new chapter. Gorging on cold eggplant stew was a sort of food heaven, the kind where every bite restores mental and physical acuity. Full disclosure: I plotted my lunch escape five minutes early. When cold stew’s involved, I take no chances.

Spiced Tomato Eggplant Stew

Adapted from Ancient Grains for Modern Meals by Maria Speck

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 medium eggplants, diced

½ cup carrots, chopped

2 teaspoons cinnamon

½ teaspoon cloves

1 28-oz can of tomatoes

2 cups chicken broth

1 cup farro

½ cup sultana raisins

1 teaspoon hot sauce

1 teaspoon sugar

Salt and pepper

Sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil over medium heat. Add the eggplant, carrots, cinnamon and cloves, stirring occasionally until the veggies begin to soften. Add the tomatoes, broth, sultanas and farro, bringing to a boil before decreasing heat and simmering until the farro is cooked and the carrots are tender (depending on how thick you would like the stew to be you may need to add additional chicken broth or water). Season to your liking with hot sauce, sugar, salt and pepper, and enjoy warm (or cold the following day).

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