Tag Archives: eggplant

Caponata – Italian sweet and sour

Caponata is a humble but delicious Sicilian eggplant dish.  While the origin of the name is unknown, it is considered by many Siciliani to be a core dish of the region’s cuisine . Typically served at room temperature or even cold, it makes a great side dish for fish or grilled chicken.  Or even for breakfast on some crusty bread with a fried egg.   The quantity below is enough as a side dish for 8-10, however it keeps well in the fridge for a good few days if you’re keen on making a batch and eating it gradually. I had some the following day from the refrigerator and it was even tastier with more developed flavours. Variations on the theme – some versions add toasted pinenuts and sultanas. Also add some fresh basil if you have it on hand.

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Ingredients
4 medium eggplant
Salt
Olive oil for frying
2 tablespoons olive oil, extra
1 large brown onion, diced
2 cups celery, cut into 1cm pieces
1/2 cup green Sicilian olives, pipped and quartered
2 tablespoons salted capers, well rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon raw sugar
50ml red wine vinegar
1 tin peeled tomatoes

Making it
1. Cut eggplant into 2cm cubes, sprinkle with salt and leave for 20-25 minutes. Rinse and dry with paper towels.
2. Put a generous amount of olive oil in a frypan, heat, and fry the eggplant in batches until golden and soft but not collapsing. Line a colander with paper towels and drain the eggplant, using more paper towels as needed.


3. In a heavy based frypan, heat the 2 tablespoons of extra olive oil and saute the onion until soft, then add the celery and saute for another 5-7 minutes. Add the eggplant, capers olives, sugar, red wine vinegar and tomatoes, gently combine and simmer on low heat, covered, for 10-12 minutes
4. Remove from frypan and place in a serving bowl and allow to cool

 

Vegetable terrine

Got a vegetarian coming over? They will love this. You could also use some semi dried tomatoes chopped through it. Slices of baked salted ricotta instead of bocconcini would work well, or no cheeses at all if you prefer dairy free. Prepare the day before serving.

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Ingredients
2 large eggplants
3 zucchini
3 red capsicum
Olive oil
Caramalised balsamic
Bunch of basil
5 large bocconcini thinly sliced
Salt

Making it
1. Slice the eggplants lengthways in 7mm slices, brush liberally with olive oil and chargrill (a mandolin and George Foreman makes short work of this!). Season the slices as you take them off the grill.

2. Similarly slice the zucchini, brush with olive oil, and chargrill. Season.

3. Meanwhile, char the capsicum under the grill, turning gradually so all blackened. Remove from grill and once cool enough, peel off the skin, remove seeds and tear into strips. Season.

4. Spray a loaf pan with olive oil and line with glad wrap. Line with eggplant such that there is some eggplant hanging over the sides. (Set aside one slice of eggplant for the end, any remaining slices can be used throughout). Gradually layer the zucchini, capsicum, basil, bocconcini, and any remaining eggplant, with dots of caramelised balsamic as you go. Once all the layers are done, fold the eggplant over and place the last slice of eggplant on top. Seal with the glad wrap, place a plastic lid or tray that fits snugly inside the pan, and weigh down with some canned tomatoes or fruit and place in the refrigerator overnight. You may need to strain excess juices a couple of times.

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5. Once ready to serve, turn out onto a platter and garnish with basil and slice.

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Sicilian Baked Eggplant

There are a few people somewhat partial to eggplant in the Napoli household, so I’m often on the lookout for new things to do with it.  I first saw this recipe on Please Pass the Recipe, who in turn saw it on the Dish Magazine website.  I thought it sounded delicious, but I put my own spin on it and did it slightly differently (other versions used honey, capers and yoghurt), so perhaps I should name it Calabrese Baked Eggplant.  This one’s a keeper.

Ingredients
2 large eggplants
12 cherry tomatoes, halved and lightly seasoned
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons sea salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon brown sugar
30g pine nuts
175g ricotta

To serve
1 cup roughly torn basil
Zest of one lemon

Making it
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C fan forced. Line a baking dish with baking paper

Cut the eggplants in half, keeping the stem. Then cut each half into 4-5 slices (will depend on the size of your eggplant), once again keeping the stem intact, and fan out the slices. Lay them on your baking tray.

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Combine the oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, and sugar and whisk until the sugar and salt is dissolved. Spoon or brush it onto the eggplant, ensuring it gets between the layers. Scatter over the cherry tomoatoes.

Bake for one hour, basting with juices every 15 minutes. I found a pastry brush was the easiest way to do this (there won’t be much juice at the first 15 minute mark). After you do the 30 minute basting, sprinkle over the pine nuts and dot the ricotta over the eggplant and return to the oven.

After an hour, switch off the oven and allow to sit in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle over the basil and lemon zest. Serve with crusty bread and a green salad. Buonissimo.

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Eggplant and tomato pasta sauce

The original recipe for this appeared on Good Food but I changed the method and ingredients a little to make it ‘piu Italiano’. The vegacquarian Marito loved it; this is a very hearty, robust vegetarian sauce that would convert any meat eater. The quantity of sauce below is enough for at least 8 people, but any excess can be stored in the freezer. You could throw in a whole red chilli during the simmering for a mild infusion of heat, or chop in some chilli for a bigger punch. I used casarecce shaped pasta for this as I thought it would “hold” the sauce well. Rigatoni or any chunky and tubular pasta would also work.

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Ingredients
125ml olive oil
About 800g eggplant, stalk removed and diced
2 tsp salt
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
3 x 400g tinned tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 bay leaves
25ml caramelised balsamic
50ml red wine
Grated parmesan to serve (optional)

Making it
1. Heat 100mls of olive oil in a large frying pan, add the eggplant and one teaspoon of salt, then fry over a high heat until golden. Spoon the eggplant onto a plate and set aside.

2. Add the remaining 25mls of olive oil to the pan, add the onion, remaining salt and fry off for 2-3 minutes to allow the onion to soften. Add 200mls of water and simmer until the water evaporates and the onion starts to turn golden.

3. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste and bay leaves, cover and simmer for about 25 minutes

4. Add the balsamic and wine and simmer for a further 5 to 10 minutes. If the sauce seems too thick and it is sticking to the bottom of the pan add about ¾ cup of water, then add back the eggplant and simmer for about 10 minutes or until the eggplant is tender but not collapsed. Check for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Meanwhile cook your favourite pasta, and once cooked, toss through the sauce and serve with grated parmesan if desired

Eggplant croquettes

This is a recipe courtesy of Mr Yotam-I-made-vegetables-sexy-Ottolenghi. But I added some parsley, and substituted his feta for ricotta. Charring the eggplant gives these a lovely smokiness. Makes 20 generous size croquettes.

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Ingredients
4 medium eggplants
2 medium potatoes, cooked, peeled and smashed
1 egg, beaten
150g ricotta, well drained
1/3 cup parsley, finely chopped
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
2 cups dried white breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper
oil for frying

Making them

  1. Char the eggplants on your cooktop on your gas flame, turning frequently until skin is burnt and they are starting to collapse. Once cool, you should be able to easily peel off the skin. Discard skin and place flesh in a colander and leave to drain for 30 minutes
  2. Place eggplant in a large bowl. Add the potatoes, egg, ricotta, parsley, Parmesan, and season with salt and pepper. Bring everything together gently with a fork. Add 1 cup of the breadcrumbs, just enough so the mix is sufficiently solid to hold its shape but is still a little sticky.
  3. Remove the mix from the bowl and divide it into four. Roll each portion into a thick sausage that is about 1 inch in diameter. Sprinkle the remaining breadcrumbs on your work surface and roll the sausages in them so they are completely coated. Cut each sausage into five pieces, gently shape and transfer to a tray and leave to firm up in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.
  4. To cook, pour enough frying oil into a frying pan to come about ¾ inch up the sides. Heat up the oil, then fry the croquettes in small batches until golden, turning them over to color evenly. Make sure the oil is always hot but not so hot that it burns the croquettes. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Serve hot.

Baked ricotta stuffed eggplant rolls

The Marito bought home some huge eggplants the other day, and I knew they’d be perfect for this dish, which I’ve been making him for years.  Using my trusty mandolin with the 7mm insert and slicing lengthways, I got about 20 slices from two eggplant and fit 16 or so rolls in my baking dish. I chargrilled them on a grill plate on the stove top, you could also do them on the barbecue or a George Foreman.  The spinach is optional, but I like to throw some greens in where I can, and you could also use silverbeet or kale.  You can add more or less cheese to taste.

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Ingredients
16 slices chargrilled eggplant
500g ricotta, well drained
100g grated parmesan
1 egg, lightly beaten
50g baby spinach, coarsely chopped
500ml plain tomato pasta sauce
100-150g mozzarella, grated or thinly sliced
salt and pepper
basil to garnish

Making it
1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees
2. In a bowl, combine the ricotta, egg, spinach, parmesan and season with salt and pepper
3. Lay out the eggplant slices, place a heaped tablespoon of the ricotta mixture on each slice, and roll one by one. Place the rolls in a baking dish – here they are almost ready to go –stuffedeggplant
4. Top with the sauce, then the mozzarella, and bake for about 30 minutes. Garnish with basil and serve with a salad or green vegetables of your choice

Dimitris’ Moussaka

With this run of dismal wet weather in Sydney, our idyllic blue sky days on the island of Paros in Greece only a couple of months ago feel like a bit of a dream. While we were there we had some great food, some of it prepared by a local cook Dimitris at our villa. A few weeks ago I tried his baked eggplant recipe, which my husband loved. This time I tried his version of moussaka – there must be endless versions, every yiayia must pass down her own to her family, and it is a labour of love. If you have a mandolin (one of my kitchen essentials), you’ll make light work of the slicing. I used a 7mm slice for the eggplant and a 5mm slice for the potatoes and zucchini. If you have nice ripe Summer tomatoes, you can use fresh instead of canned. You could also use Pecorino or Parmeggiano instead of gruyere. My baking dish was approximately 20cm x 34cm and about 6cm deep.  Dimitris if you’re reading this, I hope I did an ok job!

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Ingredients
2 large eggplants, peeled and sliced
4 medium zucchini, sliced lengthways
4 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced
Olive oil for brushing and frying
100g of Gruyere, grated
50g of Gruyere, extra (for topping)
1/3 cup fine breadcrumbs

Meat sauce
1 large onion, finely diced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1kg beef mince
½ cup white wine
1 can peeled tomatoes, pureed
2 bay leaves
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of raw sugar
Salt and pepper for seasoning

For the béchamel
100g butter
3/4 cup plain flour, sifted
1 litre milk
100g Gruyere, grated
Salt for seasoning
Pinch of nutmeg
1 egg, lightly beaten

Making it

1. For the meat, sauce, put the olive oil in a pan, add the onion, and saute until softened. Add the mince and cook until browned, add the wine and cook down. Add the tomato, sugar, bay leaves, nutmeg, season with salt and pepper and simmer on low heat for about 30 minutes. It should not be too wet as you don’t want your moussaka to be runny

2. Fry the sliced potatoes in olive oil, season and set aside; fry the zucchini slices in olive oil and set aside

3. Heat the oven to 180 degrees. Brush the eggplant with olive oil, season, and bake until softened, 20-30 minutes

4. Meanwhile make the béchamel. Melt the butter in a pan, add the flour and whisk, and cook for a few minutes. Add the milk, whisking constantly; the mixture will thicken and begin to bubble. Season, add the nutmeg, remove from heat and whisk in the cheese. Finally whisk in the egg.

Assembly
Place a layer of potato on the bottom of your baking dish, covering as best possible. Follow with a layer of eggplant, the half the grated cheese. Then add the meat, make sure it is a nice smooth layer. Follow with a layer of zucchini, the rest of the cheese, another layer of eggplant, then finally top with the béchamel. Sprinkle the extra cheese on top and the breadcrumbs, bake in a 180 degree oven for about 45 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to sit for a few minutes before serving.

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