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We found these little eggplant at a wonderful Asian market in Ft. Lee, New Jersey. Thought we might make something with them to celebrate the Lunar New Year, but we ended up folding, pleating, and eating dumplings for days instead. Heaven. Now we’re back to braising, just the way to turn these cutie pie eggplant supple and tender.  We hauled out our Le Creuset pot, and added the eggplant (they’re about the size of a golfball). Then we added a can of whole peeled tomatoes and the water we used to rinse out the can (about 1 cup), a sliced onion, and a couple of crushed garlic cloves. We spiced things up with red pepper flakes, bay leaves, salt, and some glugs of olive oil to add richness. We covered the pot and into a 300°F oven it went to braise until the eggplant had collapsed into the saucy juices. It’s one of those dishes that could be served hot over rigatoni topped with crunchy bread crumbs, but we ate it for a dainty lunch today, served at room temperature with some hard-boiled eggs.

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