Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Farmers' Market Eggplant and a Favorite Recipe

I love eggplant.

I especially love small, tender young eggplant!  I don't know the names of these varieties, but I know they are among my favorites, and I bought some at a recent Farmers Market.

One of my all time favorite eggplant recipes is Sweet-and-Sour Eggplant with Ricotta Salata.  See the link for the recipe; here's what I did.

I caramelized sugar in some water in a saucepan, and then added vinegar, tomatoes, garlic and oil.  I seasoned with salt and white pepper (the white pepper really makes a difference).  This simmered for about 1/2 hour.

Meanwhile, I sliced up my eggplants, laid the slices out on a baking sheet, brushed them with oil, seasoned them, and roasted them in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes, turning them in the middle.

I then spooned tomato sauce over it to cover, and baked it for 20 minutes more until it was bubbling and browning.  When it came out of the oven, I sprinkled over the mint and cheese.  I substituted a Greek feta - I've used this substitution in the past, and it works just fine if ricotta salata is difficult to find.

The finished dish can be served, hot or room temperature, with any remaining tomato sauce on the side.  I think the flavor is beyond compare - the combination of the sugar and vinegar in the sauce taste almost candied, and the slightly bitter and salty flavors from the eggplant and cheese soften the sweetness.  It's a wonderfully rich taste experience!

While the recipe suggests serving this with a Sicilian white or a Pinot Grigio, I really love it with a medium bodied red, such as a Chianti or Barbera.  Enjoy!

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