'I could not exist for more than a few days without cooking some eggplant,. And yet for many cooks this is one of the most mysterious of vegetables.'
- Stephanie Alexander, The Cook's Companion
In Seasonal, Stefano Manfredi writes that Italians like to 'pickle eggplant in long strips, keeping them a little crunchy.' He recommends pairing them with tomatoes, zucchini, capsicum, onion, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, yoghurt, lamb, haloumi and parmesan, among other diverse ingredients. In his recipe for eggplant baked with tomato, parmesan and oregano, Manfredi cuts the eggplant lengthwise into a fan shape, leaving the top of the stem intact, then brushes it with olive oil and slips slices of tomato in between the sliced 'leaves' of the eggplant. Sprinkle with parmesan and baked for 25 minutes until tender in a 190 degree C oven.
I've been experimenting with a number of eggplant dishes over the last two weeks, including versions of a Middle Eastern classic of sliced, roasted eggplant served with yoghurt, saffron and pomegranate by both Yotam Ottolenghi and Claudia Roden. I will share with you my take on the recipe as soon as I have 'nailed the flavours' and once locally grown pomegranates are more readily available. In the meantime, you might enjoy my eggplant stack or chargrilled eggplant with tomato, basil and garlic.