Neapolitan Eggplant

For this week's recipe, I decided to try something different. Instead of presenting a new recipe myself, I thought I would do a field test of someone else's recipe that looked good. On our recent trip to the area around Sorrento (see previous post about our meal at Mondo Bio) in Southern Italy, I enjoyed several eggplant dishes, which it turned out was one of the specialties of nearby Naples. The word Neapolitan actually refers to something coming from Naples. So when I saw this recipe on one of my favourite blogs, I knew I had to try it.

I have been following the Cooking Up Comics vegetarian recipe blog since the first post and I often share my favourites on twitter. It combines two of my favourite things: comic strip artwork and meatless recipes. I recommend you follow this blog and keep a watch on Alisa’s weekly updates. To get the actual recipe this week, you will need to click on this link and follow the directions. I will only be offering commentary and pictures of my results.

Part of what hooked me was the phrase, “Even people who don’t tend to like eggplant love it!” I live with two picky eggplant people and I am always trying to get them to share my love of the delicious nightshade vegetable. I started with one giant eggplant rather than two sort of large ones - seriously, if this thing had arms and legs, I could have wheeled it home in a baby carriage. I peeled and chopped it as directed, and then coated it with salt to draw out the bitterness.

While the eggplant cubes were sitting in their salt, I mixed together the vinegar, brown sugar and garlic for the sauce and chopped the olives. Then I got out my roasting pan and oiled it. When 15 minutes were up, I rinsed off my eggplant, tossed it in the oil from the pan and popped it in the oven.

After 25 minutes in the oven, the eggplant looked and smelled fantastic. I added the sauce to the pan and baked it for another 3 minutes to soften the garlic and then mixed the whole thing together in my serving dish. To me, it looked great. But there was some resistance on the part of others in my household. “Too mushy” and “smells vinegary” were the comments. I served it over pasta and added the capers to my own dish (I also live with picky caper people, sigh).

I have no complaints - this dish was eggplant perfection for me. But I have to admit it did not make a dent in the eggplant pickiness of the rest of my family. So if you are an eggplant convert already, you will find this to be a delicious option for Meatless Monday. Enjoy!