Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Wining and Dining

Melanzane, Finocchi, Patate & Pomodorini in Umido al Vino Rosso
Eggplant, Fennel, Potato & Cherry Tomatoes Stewed in Red Wine


Ever curious, ever adventurous... and ever brave in the kitchen, this evening I went out on a limb and tried out something a little bit crazy!

I had half of the eggplant I used yesterday evening left-over and waiting to be put to good use in the fridge... I had an open bottle of wine... and I had an idea!

The Sicilian-styled cauliflower cooked in red wine is now one of my favorite dishes- so much so, that this evening I thought that I would risk making another vegetable dish stewed in rich red wine... and voila! For a first attempt it really wasn't half bad!

The fennel of course adds a nice sweetness and the potatoes added a little "bulk" and helped thicken the wine and juices into a sauce- but the tomato and herbs blended together wonderfully to make this really rich and delicious! And so easy! All you need is about an hours time... patience... but that's not too hard to do with a glass of red to sip on!


So- I made this from one half of a large eggplant, 1 small bulb of fennel, 2 Spring onions, 2 small potatoes, 4-5 cherry tomatoes, 1 glass of red wine, 1 tablespoon of dried oregano and a little fresh parsley and thyme. And yes- garlic would work well in this... but I didn't have any!


And how would I describe it? Hmmm. If you like caponata or ratatouille, if you like eggplant in general, if you like antipasti with a slice or two of bread before your Italian meal... you will probably like this!

The wine makes it of course a rather "heady" affair, but basically it simply tastes typically Mediterranean and rich- definitely a grown-up kind of dish with a sophisticated and nuanced flavor. It has a touch of tanginess from the wine, fruitiness from the tomatoes and vibrancy from the herbs... so get your taste buds ready!


Prep work here is obvious and simple- everything get chopped into bite-sized pieces... very easy!


I began by frying the diced eggplant, potatoes, fennel and Spring onions and thyme in olive oil, until they just started to brown.


I then added the tomatoes and seasoned with plenty of salt and pepper and just a pinch of sugar.

Next came about 1 tablespoon of tomato purée, which I stirred in well and allowed 1-2 minutes in order for it to lose any bitterness it might otherwise bring... As one does  ;-)


I then deglazed the saucepan with 1 glass of red wine and stirred it in to bring up all of the flavors from the base of the saucepan and to dissolve the tomato purée and begin turning it into a sauce.


I then added 1/2 a glass of water and brought everything to the boll. I reduced the heat to a slow simmer, made sure all of the potato pieces were beneath the surface and then put on the lid and let it gently cook along.

After 30 minutes or so, I added 1 tablespoon of dried oregano and then let it simmer away again for a further 20 minutes... Basically until the potato was tender.


With a few sprigs of fennel greens as a garnish, my rich and wonderful stew was ready... all it needed now was a hunk of crusty bread to go with it!


And of course a sip of wine to keep it company! But it was all in a very good cause!

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