Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Mediterranean Eggplant Caviar

Eggplant is one of those vegetables that seduces me every time I see it. There is something about that glossy purple skin and nubby green cap that just hooks my stomach and purrs, "you want me, you know you do."

Among my favorite recipes for eggplant is this one, from one of the lesser known Moosewood Cookbooks (I call it the "white moosewood" because of the cover. I think it is one of the best ones, even if it is smaller. This caviar includes all of my favorite flavors: briny capers, roasted eggplant and peppers, clean fresh parsley and puckery red wine vinegar. I made a bowl of it for some company tonight and it was even doable in my new kitchen that is only half unpacked.

I have only made this with the Italian eggplant variety, so the cooking times would be shorter if you used the Japanese eggplants, probably 15 minutes less in the oven.

Mediterranean Eggplant Caviar

1/2 lb eggplant (2 small or 1 large)
1 red bell pepper
1 stalk celery, diced
3-4 slices red onion, diced
2 roma tomatoes or 1/2 large beefsteak, diced
1 tablespoon capers, minced
1-2 tablespoons parsley, minced
1-2 tablespoons olive oil (to taste)
2-3 tablespoons red wine vinegar (to taste)
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400. Place eggplant and peppers on foil covered baking sheet or pan and roast vegetables until eggplant appears to sink into itself and red pepper is charred and shrunken all over, about 30-40 minutes depending on size. Remove from oven and place pepper in brown paper bag to steam. As soon as you can stand touching the eggplant, slice off cap and cut in half and scoop out pulp and dice. A trick to getting all of the pulp is to take a fork and rake out the pulp clinging to the skin, it will come out easily. Remove pepper from bag and peel off skin and remove seeds and stem and discard. Dice remaining deskinned flesh and combine with eggplant in a bowl. Add remaining ingredients and mix well, adjusting taste. Serve with crackers or as bruschetta topping. This is good immediately but its flavors meld if it is allowed to sit for a while, either in the refrigerator or on the counter.


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