Friday, 17 August 2012

David Beats Goliath

Piccoli Melanzane Caramellate con i Pepe & Insalata di Bulgur e Lenticchie Rosse
Caramelized Mini Pepper Eggplants with Bulgur & Red Lentil Salad

I though I should make a little something meatless today, but something cool and tasty and fun. I had bought some of those tiny, pale green and white Thai eggplants and was planning on making those anyway... and then my colleague Peggy turned up at the office with a handful of the little purple ones! So thast was what clinched it! They just had to be cooked! Together! And by golly, come evening, they were!

The other thing I had a craving for, for some reason, the whole day, was a nice, simple bulgur salad. Again- easy, refreshing but still satisfying. Sometimes it is hard to figure out what to make for dinner... but sometimes it sorts itself out all by itself!

I cut the eggplants into quarters and sprinkled them lightly with salt. I let them sit for 10-15 minutes, long enough for them to start exuding the bitterness in their juices, so that they didn't need much more than a little squeeze to get rid of a good bit from the start. Did I mention btw. that I much prefer these little eggplants rather than the regular large ones?

Whilst the eggplants were doing their thing, I did MY thing with the bulgur. I brought 4 cups of water to the boil and added 2 cups of bulgur, stirred well, seasoned with salt and simmered gently on a low heat. After 5 minutes, I added a cupful of red lentils, continued boiling for 2 minutes and turned off the heat. With the lid on, there was enough residual heat and trapped steam in the saucepan that everything cooked to perfection within the time it took to get busy with the eggplants.

I fried the eggplants in a small amount of olive oil, with some sliced garlic and a couple of pieces of lemon peel. I kept tossing and stirring them, with the heat rather high, in order to get them cooked rapidly and retain the nice vibrant colors.

Whilst the eggplants were browning, I finely chopped a couple of Spring onions, a handful each of mint and parsley and I also finely grated a little lime zest and I added this all to the bulgur, seasoned with salt, pepper and a little added a little more olive oil as well as the juice of half a lemon. I fluffed up the bulgur using a fork and added all of the herbs and flavorings. I set the salad to one side though and got busy adding a little pep and magic to the eggplants- by this time I was beginning to feel hungry!

I seasoned the eggplants with a good pinch from my "Salt of the Earth", a little cayenne pepper and a light drizzle of honey to give a light glaze and to balance-out any bitterness. I do have to say though, that this ages old tradition of salting the eggplants in advance to get rid of the bitterness, is only rarely necessary and that these beauties all tasted lovely and sweet!

I served the eggplants on a bed of bulgur salad, added plenty of fresh mint leaves as a garnish... and poured myself a glass of Verdicchio, which is a lovely Summer wine and just perfect in combination with flavors like these- simple, fresh, strong and Mediterranean and totally delicious! Buon apetito!

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