Vegan and vegetarian, absolutely delicious, this is a recipe I hold very close to my heart. I was too young to remember who thought me how to make it: this tasty wonder has been in my family for generations. Was it my mother? My grandmother? They both cooked it to perfection, and I feel, the legacy should go on.
It’s the Fall, a season of color, and I’d say, a season of opportunity. You’ll never get more flavors, and a richer choice of fresh ingredients than now. The humble eggplant is among the healthiest foods you could choose for your diet. It’s got essential nutrients, iron, calcium and other minerals, fiber, Vitamin K and bioflavonoids. Ideally, you should eat eggplant (aubergine) baked, because fried it tends to soak too much fat. But this dish is so tasty, that I say: come on, let’s break the rules every once in a while. Now let’s get cooking. Here’s what you will need:
- 3 fresh eggplants
- 5-6 fresh, medium sized tomatoes
- fresh oregano or basil
- 5 garlic cloves
- 4 shallots
- olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- some herbs de Provence, finely chopped, or dried
- agave syrup, or substitute (honey, maple syrup – no sugar)
Get 3 fresh eggplants, and slice them lengthways, pretty much like this:
Now bring salted water to boil in a deep cooking pot, and then, throw the sliced eggplant in, and scald it for two minutes or so. Remove from heat, and drain well.
Prepare some all purpose flour on a plate – season it with salt, pepper and herbs de Provence (mix well with your fingertips).
Heat oil in a large sauté pan. Roll the eggplant slices through flour, then fry until golden brown (about 1 minute on each side). Don’t crowd your pan: fry several batches if you need to.
Drain on some kitchen towel, then set aside to cool off.
Time for your sauce: peel and dice 5 garlic cloves and 4 shallots. Wash and dice 5-6 medium sized tomatoes – try to dice them as small as you can.
In a non-sticky pan, add 1 teaspoon of olive oil, let heat briefly, then add the onion and garlic and fry until the onion is translucent, stirring from time to time, to prevent burning. Add a glass of white wine (dry) and stir occasionally until the liquid has evaporated. Tip in the tomatoes, season with salt, black pepper and a teaspoon of agave syrup, and leave to simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15-20 minutes. For a special kick, add a teaspoon of finely chopped oregano (or basil) when you are almost done:
Set aside, and layer the aubergines inside the tomato sauce, stir gently (don’t break the aubergines) and let sit for about 2-3 minutes. They will be warm and ready to serve. You can plate the dish and serve with bread and salad, or use your imagination to create a one-of-a-kind centerpiece your kids will love. It’s really up to you.
This is the fast version:
And this, is a special centerpiece I created for you now, to illustrate just how to make this very simple dish the star of your dining table. Usually, you serve this dish with salad, and bread. For the centerpiece, you have rice, baby corn, olives, and other goodies: