This simple dish, melanzane fritte al pomodoro, tastes surprisingly rich and complex, and the results are so versatile: You can use it as a pasta sauce, as a side dish to a meaty main, or eat it spread on slices of hearty, crusty bread. It can be served at room temperature as well, as a dip or side dish, so it's a great dish to bring along on a picnic, served on crostini as a party finger-food, or to bring to a potluck. It also just happens to be both vegetarian and vegan, so it's accessible to many diets and lifestyles.
If you have an abundance of eggplant to use up, you could make a big batch of this and can or freeze the excess so you can continue to enjoy summer's bounty during the colder months.
There is a very similar dish in Turkey, quite popular during the summer months, called patlıcan kızartma or patlıcan kızartması, which is served in either a simple tomato sauce, like the one shown here, or with a garlic-yogurt sauce (or sometimes both).
- Olive oil, for frying (1-2 cups)
- 3 eggplants (trimmed and cut into 1/3-inch-thick rounds or lengthwise slices)
- For the Tomato Sauce:
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3-4 cloves of garlic (peeled and finely minced)
- 4-6 large diced tomatoes (or 2 cans of diced tomatoes, briefly whirred in a blender, or with a handheld immersion blender, to form a chunky sauce)
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
- Dash fine sea salt (to taste)
- Dash freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
Fry the eggplants:
- After you have trimmed and sliced the eggplant, heat the frying oil in a heavy-bottomed pot or high-sided skillet.
- Fry the slices in batches, to avoid crowding, until golden brown on both sides, turning occasionally with tongs or wooden chopsticks to help them brown evenly.
- As the eggplant slices are done, remove them with a slotted spoon or wire-mesh skimmer to drain on a paper-towel lined plate.
Make the sauce:
- Heat the extra-virgin olive oil and minced garlic in a medium saucepan over medium heat, just until fragrant and starting to color, but not browned, about 1 minute.
- Add the diced fresh tomatoes (or slightly pureed canned diced tomatoes), the sugar, and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
- Cover, lower the heat to low, and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the tomatoes have broken down and the sauce is flavorful and a bit thickened. If the sauce seems too watery, you can add some tomato paste (doppio concentrato di pomodoro) as needed, and/or continue cooking it down a bit.
- Depending on how you will be using the eggplant, you can either serve the fried slices on a plate topped with the tomato sauce or mix them together to form a spread, dip or pasta sauce.
|Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)|