|Serves: Varies||Cuisine: Italian|
Here is another great dish that I encountered during my recent trip to Italy. Our great friend Melania Vaccaro, originally from Sicily, put me to work making this wonderful Sicilian Style Eggplant. Make this a day ahead, and refrigerate for best results. Choose the eggplant for firmness. They should feel heavy in the hand, do not use the ones that feel light.
- Slice the eggplant into 1/2″ round slices with skin all around. Use a straight-sided frying pan. Eggplant drinks olive oil, so add a generous 1/4″ or more of olive oil to the pan, and heat until hot enough to make a sizzle when the eggplant is placed in the pan. If the oil is hot enough the eggplant will absorb much less oil and brown nicely. Don’t crowd the pan. As the eggplant browns, turn once, and then remove from the pan and place on paper towel to drain. Add more oil and heat as needed, frying in batches until all is done. (We used about half a liter of good olive oil in the process, well worth it for the taste and texture) The eggplant should still be a bit firm in the center but clearly cooked.
- Remove the eggplant from the paper towel or brown paper, and sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper.
- Place the drained eggplant in a glass bowl or other bowl large enough to hold all the slices. Add best quality canned tomatoes (some purists may think it is a travesty that I am recommending Spanish tomatoes but these are truly extraordinary and after all Sicily was once ruled by Spain), with some of its liquid, enough to just moisten the eggplant little by little without drowning it, and reserve the rest of the tomatoes for other use. You can add a clove of finely chopped garlic if you would like, a few pieces in each layer. Add the basil as you go, and a generous amount of fresh Calvi Mosto Oro Extra Virgin Olive Oil to cover the mixture, again do not drown the mixture.
- Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. When ready to serve, remove the plastic wrap, place a serving plate on top of the bowl and invert the molded eggplant onto the plate. Let sit to take the chill off. Cut with a cake cutter in slices and serve cool or room temperature.
We particularly like this with Pizza Rolls as an appetizer.