Last summer we shared our recipe for Ratatouille, which is quite different from most that we've seen. We still enjoy eggplant prepared in that manner, however we have also tried to broaden our use of this interesting vegetable. The Baked Eggplant Sicilian Style came from our friends Garland and Suzanne Marshall. When Allen sampled the dish at their house, he asked them to share the recipe. Suzanne notes that the recipe also works well with canned tomatoes.
We have encountered a few problems with eggplant. First, we are surprised at how poorly eggplant stores. Evidently it prefers a temperature of 50°, and therefore doesn't keep very well at room temperature or in the refrigerator. We have just learned to buy it and use it quickly. We are puzzled, though, about how you can tell if an eggplant is "ripe". We have had at least one unfortunate experience with an eggplant that ruined a recipe, and we are still unsure about the process for selecting a perfect eggplant. The debate about salting eggplant to remove the bitter taste still rages with opinions on both sides of the argument. We have found that salting, rinsing and drying the eggplant seems to cut down on the amount of oil that is needed in the cooking process.
From Trattoria Cooking: At Trattoria La Bussola in Mazzaro, a very small community just outside Taormina in Sicilia, they bread and fry the eggplant slices, combine them with a lightly cooked tomato sauce and mozzarella, and bake the preparation just long enough for the cheese to melt. The result is a very satisfying yet fresh-tasting dish.
Put the eggplant slices on a large platter or baking sheet, sprinkle with the salt and let stand for about one hour. Rinse the eggplant slices thoroughly and pat dry with paper towels.
Dip the slices in the beaten eggs, shake off the excess and dredge to completely cover in the bread crumbs. Heat one inch of vegetable oil in a medium-size skillet over high heat. When the oil is very hot, slip a few of the breaded eggplant slices into the oil. When they are golden (less than one minute), turn and brown on the other side. With a slotted spoon, transfer the slices to paper towels to drain. Repeat with the remaining eggplant. (This step can be done a few hours ahead. Keep the fried eggplant at room temperature.)
Preheat the oven to 350°. Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until the garlic begins to color, less than one minute. Add the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Cook, uncovered, 7 to 8 minutes. Just before removing the tomato mixture from the heat, stir in the parsley.
Spread about 3/4 cup of the sauce in the bottom of a baking dish. Cover the sauce with eggplant slices and top each with two slices of mozzarella. Spread some more of the tomato sauce over them and repeat until all of the ingredients are used up. (If you are using a small baking dish, you might have two or three layers. If you are using a large dish, you may have only one layer.) Bake until the cheese is melted, 12 to 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. 4-6 servings.
Peel the eggplant and cut into finger-sized pieces, 1/2" x 3". Place eggplant pieces in a colander and salt thoroughly. Let stand for one hour. Thoroughly rinse the eggplant and dry on paper towels.
In a medium bowl, beat eggs with milk until combined. Mix the Bisquick, salt and pepper together on a sheet of foil. Dip the eggplant into the egg mixture, shake to drain excess and thoroughly coat with breading mix. Place the eggplant pieces on a platter and refrigerate for 30 minutes (to allow the breading to set). Heat 1 inch of oil in a medium pan over high heat. When the oil is hot, place the eggplant pieces in the oil, a few at a time and fry until golden brown (2-3 minutes). Drain on paper towels and serve warm. 6 appetizer servings.
This makes a delicious appetizer when served with lightly toasted bread (from the Victory Garden Cookbook, Alfred Knopf 1982).
Peel and cube the eggplant. Place the cubes in a colander and salt thoroughly. Let drain for one hour. Rinse thoroughly and pat dry with paper towels. Heat half the oil in a large skillet over high heat. Saute half the eggplant until golden brown (5-8 minutes). Remove to a strainer and drain. Add the remaining oil, saute the rest of the eggplant, and drain. Wipe the pan clean, add the additional 2 TBS oil and saute the onions and celery just until tender. Add the tomatoes, cover the pan and cook 4-5 minutes. Uncover the pan and cook additional 5 minutes. Add the sauteed eggplant, olives, capers and pine nuts. Combine the vinegar and sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Pour into the eggplant mixture and simmer, covered 5-10 minutes. Season to taste and cool. Makes 7-8 cups.
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