Monday, June 25, 2012


Recently I watched an episode of Around the World in 80 plates, where they were cooking in Modena, Italy. One of the restaurant owners said:"The beauty of Italy is the fact that it is this individuality that is so Italian. You go down this street and you get into five restaurants and all 5 of them will make a different tortellini filling. And every one of them is a real authentic one. Everyone has an authority on Italian food but there is no definitive benchmark so it is very interpretive." I am in no way a professional on food and my opinion comes from experience of a consumer/home cook: when it comes to Italian food, it is not so much about technicalities and recipes, but about great quality freshest ingredients and the feel of the dish. Sometimes you come to the restaurant that specializes in Italian food and you are served something that is based on authentic Italian recipe but taste wise and feel wise is very far from what real Italian food is. And sometimes you create a dish in the house, using the freshest veggies, following nothing but your gut and come up with such a treat, that when you serve it, you hear:"Honey, this is something I would order in an Italian restaurant!":)
Serve it as a salad or an appetizer or have it as a side dish to a steak or fish.

4 Italian eggplants, cut in 1/2" slices
regular salt
1 can diced tomatoes (14.5 oz)
1 medium onion, sliced
1 bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 tbsp sugar
a little less than 1/2 cup white vinegar
1.5 tbsp olive oil + 4 tbsp (+) for cooking eggplants

Place the eggplant slices in a dish and cover them with a couple of tablespoons of salt. Put something heavy on top and leave for 1 hour. This procedure is going to take out excess moisture and they are going to absorb less oil when you fry them. Afterwards wash them with cold water and dry on a paper towel.
Heat 1.5 tbsp of olive oil in a pan over medium low and cook the onion for 3-4 minutes. Change the heat setting to low and add tomatoes, bell pepper and pine nuts. Cook for 15 minutes stirring occasionally.
In another pan heat 4 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat. Cook eggplant slices in batches until golden brown on both sides. Add more oil if needed. Move eggplants to the pan with onion-tomato mixture and cook for 10 minutes on medium low stirring occasionally. Season with salt and add sugar. Cook for 10 more minutes. Pour in vinegar and cook until it evaporates - 3-4 minutes. Sprinkle with basil before serving. 
Can be served cold as well.


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