Eggplant in Savory Tomato Sauce

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1 large onion, preferably sweet
1/2 cup (about) vegetable broth
1 1/2 pounds chinese, japanese or small italian eggplants, unpeeled, cut in rounds about 3/8 inch thick
salt, optional
freshly ground pepper
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
3 large cloves garlic, chopped
1 large sprig fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1 teaspoon ground cumin, optional
coarsely chopped cilantro or parsley, for garnish

Halve onion lengthwise (from top to bottom), set it cut-side down on board, then halve each piece lengthwise again. Slice onion crosswise.

Heat 1 tablespoon broth in large, nonstick sauté pan. Add onion and cook 2 minutes over medium-high heat, stirring, then 2 minutes over medium heat. Cover and cook, stirring and adding broth by tablespoonfuls as pan gets dry, about 2 minutes or until light brown. Do not allow onion to burn.

Add eggplant slices and salt and pepper to taste and stir to coat eggplant with onion mixture.

Cover and cook 2 minutes over medium heat.

Add tomato sauce, 2 tablespoons broth, garlic, thyme and cumin. Stir gently. Cover and cook 5 minutes, stirring once or twice.

Add 1 or 2 tablespoons broth if necessary. Cover and cook over low heat 5 to 10 minutes or until tender.

Discard thyme sprig. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Serve on plate or shallow platter, sprinkled generously with cilantro.

Yield: 2 or 3 main-course or 4 side-dish servings.

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