Monday, 8 October 2012

Cutting to the Taste

Melanzane alla Menta, Basilico e Pomodoro Seccho
Eggplant with Mint, Basil and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Mamma always knows best, they always say. Well, you know what? She sure knows how to prepare eggplants best and that's for sure! I couldn't get over how great this method was or how wonderful the eggplants looked when she dished them up a couple of weeks back in Sicily! What a treat! And to think she came up with this idea now that she is pushing 80- I love you mom! Only... why didn't you always make them like this whilst I was growing up?!?

I guess the answer would be that I wouldn't have eaten them! And I know a number of people who claim not to like eggplant... but I am sure they could be converted if they were to try them prepared this way! They are just beautiful and delicious- and so easy to make too!

Of course this is my version of the same dish- I wasn't there whilst she was preparing them... but the essence and the ingredients are the same and I sure she would approve! In any case, let me share with you how I made them this evening- they were almost as good- but not quite! But then again- nothing is better than mamma's cooking!

I started off by cutting the eggplant into quarters, peeling it, and taking off a little of the inner edge, so that it would lay down a little flatter.  I then cut 2 slits into the outer side of the eggplant and stuffed these with mint, basil and garlic.

I started frying them in a little olive oil at a moderate heat, flipping them over occasionally and seasoning with salt and plenty of coarsely ground black pepper. After 4-5 minutes, I deglazed the pan with a little white wine and put on the lid for them to sit and steam for a further 4-5 minutes.

After this time I took off the lid and squashed them down a little. By now they were nice and soft and almost good... but not yet good enough!

I slid a half slice of sun-dried tomato into each slit and then flipped the eggplant wedges over, then turned up the heat until any remaining moisture had evaporated. I added a little more oil to get the eggplants nice and brown in the last few minutes and tried to control the urge to cut into one and steal some whilst it was cooking- the aroma was delicious!

I served them with a sprinkle of grated salted ricotta and chili flakes and enjoyed them with a couple of slices of crusty bread and a glass (or two!) of red wine, which just went so much better with the rich flavors of the tomato and garlic. I would recommend a Corvo or Nero d'Avola to go with this- something authentic and Sicilian! Thanks again Mamma! You're the best!

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