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Stuffed Eggplants as prepared in Puglia (Italy)
These aromatic and delightful eggplant halves are a specialty of the Restaurant Al Fornello da Ricci in the town of Ceglie Messapica.
Serves 4
4 Italian eggplants (about 1 pound), preferably short and plump
  Coarse salt
1 teaspoon (20) small capers, rinsed and drained
8 anchovy fillets, rinsed, drained and roughly chopped
1/4 packed cup (1 ounce) fine-grated Pecorino cheese
  Freshly ground black pepper
3 small cloves garlic, peeled and slivered
1/4 cup olive oil
  Pinches of Mediterranean oregano, crumbled just before using
2 teaspoons dry white wine
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

1. Wash, drain and hull the eggplants. Halve the eggplants lengthwise and make two or three deep slits in the eggplant flesh; do not pierce the skin. Sprinkle with salt and place cut side down in a colander. Put a heavy plate on top and let stand at least 30 minutes. Rinse thoroughly and pat dry with paper toweling.

2. In a mixing bowl, combine the capers, anchovies, cheese, and pepper and crush to make a paste, about 3 tablespoons. Divide mixture into 8 equal parts, and fill the slits in the eggplant halves with garlic slivers and a portion of the paste. Reshape the eggplant.

3. In a large nonstick skillet, heat olive oil to hot but not smoking. Add the eggplant, cut side down, and reduce the heat to moderate. Cover and cook until the eggplant flesh turns golden brown, about 10 minutes. Turn each eggplant and cook, uncovered, until tender, about 5 minutes. Place eggplant, flesh side up, on a serving plate; sprinkle with oregano, white wine and vinegar and let stand at least 20 minutes before serving.

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©1999—2006 Paula Wolfert