veal cakes over silky eggplant

Oh Sunday. You tricky little beast.

It was such a beautiful day out. It was one of those days where everyone is thinking about how few layers they need to wear and lusting after gardening items at the hardware store. Maybe those are both just me actually. But seriously, it was almost actually warm out. This winter has been nothing in comparison to last year but for some reason, I'm beyond eager for Spring and Summer to come around. The longer days, the garden fresh food, and perma-smell of sunblock just can't come fast enough.

In some ways, this meal is an odd little hybrid of being a winter comfort but reminiscent of summer all at once. The warm hearty veal cakes are by no means a burger on the grill but also not that far from it. The eggplant is incredibly simple which is how most meals are in the summer. All in, the whole evening came together quick enough to satisfy a table after a long day in the sun.

A few notes:
  • Cakes // I was a bit apprehensive about how few ingredients this meal had - especially the veal cakes. Even when I make hand-packed burgers, I am tossing more ingredients into the meat - but these were perfect. Don't worry about it.
  • Veal // I am not sure that I've ever bought veal before this occasion. I saw it on a meat fire sale combined with a manager's special just after Christmas. It seemed like a worthwhile gamble for less than $3. While it won't be in my regular rotation, it will be nice to have in the arsenal of options.
  • Eggplant // I was talking to my mom as I was cooking the eggplant. She was seemingly surprised that eggplant might ever be described as silky so I wasn't quite sure what to expect. While "silky" might not be the first word I use, it isn't wrong. The veggies turn out nicely with a substance and gentleness to them without being soft and mushy.

Here's how it goes.

(Step 1) Heat 3 tablespoon oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat until it shimmers, then cook eggplant with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes.

(Step 2) Stir together tomato paste, sugar, water, and vinegar and add to eggplant with 1/3 cup scallions, then braise, covered, over medium heat until eggplant is tender, about 12 minutes.

(Step 3) While eggplant braises, gently mix veal, dill, remaining 1/3 cup scallions, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl, then form into 4 (4-inch) cakes.

(Step 4) Heat remaining 3 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. Dredge veal cakes in flour, shaking off excess, then fry, turning once, until golden-brown, 8 to 12 minutes total for medium. 

(Step 5) Divide eggplant among 4 plates and top with veal cakes.

Shopping List (based on this recipe)
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 1/2 pounds eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
3 large scallions, trimmed and finely chopped (2/3 cup), divided
1 1/2 pound ground veal
2 tablespoons chopped dill
All-purpose flour for dredging

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