Thursday, August 12, 2010

Aubergines, sicilian style

Mmmm... am love love LOVING aubergines/eggplants/brungiel at the moment. They are lovely, and I've discovered (thanks to mum) a way that one can cook them without them absorbing huge amounts of oil.

Very easy, once you slice them, place them in water with heaps of salt,and soak them for at least minutes, or even a couple of hours. You might need some kind of weight to keep them from floating... i put empty glass bottles on top to weigh them down into the water.

Really felt like a "parmiggiana", i.e. layers of eggplant, mozzarella and tomato sauce baked to golden, bubbly, melty, tomato-ey, gooey, perfection. But at the same time, I felt like something a little different.

I adapted this recipe from one I found in an old (2006) edition of E and D, a Maltese periodical mag that comes out with the Sunday paper.

I have no idea if it's really a Sicilian dish, especially seeing as Provolone is not from there, but I don't care, it was delicious.

This dish is ideal to serve as a whole meal with some salad, or in smaller portions as a side dish (but it's quite hefty and filling). I think the quantities below will serve 4 as a not too heavy dinner, or 6 as a pretty rich side-dish.

The quantities may be a little off, I only actually looked at the method and the ingredients, but not the quantities requested.

Aubergines, Sicilian Style


A couple of medium-large Aubergines, trimmed and sliced into 1 cm slices.
2 onions (preferably white ones) thinly sliced
3-5 cloves of garlic, chopped
about 200grams Provolone (I used piccante)roughly grated, or shaved.
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and chopped
1 tin tomato polpa
a large tablespoon Kunserva (tomato paste) (mix this into the polpa)
Fresh basil leaves
4 anchovy fillets, chopped finely***
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste.

After allowing the aubergines to soak in the well salted water for a while, rinse and drain them, and place them in a single layer on a grill proof dish. Brush with olive oil, sprinkle some salt and pepper and grill until golden brown. Turn over, brush with oil and season, and grill the other side.

Keep on doing this until all the eggplant is grilled.

Fry the onions in a little olive oil until golden, then add the garlic and sautee on a low-medium heat for 2 minutes, making sure the garlic doesn't burn.

Place a single layer (well packed) of aubergines on the bottom of a flat ovenproof dish (I used a rectangular pyrex dish). Sprinkle with torn basil leaves and half the onion/garlic mixture.

Sprinkle with half the capers, and all the anchovies, and top with half the tomato sauce and half the cheese.

Make another layer of eggplant, and repeat (sprinkle with some torn basil, the other half of the onions, capers). Then top with the other half of the tomato, and then cheese, and season with pepper and salt.

Please in a hot oven for 15 minutes or so until bubbling and browned, and let it rest for about 5-10 minutes (if you can bear it) before serving.

***Honestly, I couldn't taste the anchovies, they literally melted into the tomato sauce. I'm sure the taste would have been "not quite right" without them, and even people who didn't like anchovies enjoyed this one.

Provolone, capers and the anchovies brought this dish that's very similar to eggplant parmiggiana to dizzying heights, even though parmiggiana is one of my favourites. I'll be SURE to make this version again... maybe sooner rather than later...

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