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Sicilian Eggplant Spread with Crostini

August 4, 2012

This recipe is adapted from Ivy Manning’s Farm to Table cookbook, one I particularly like because she bases her recipes on NW produce and producers. I thought it was time to start suggesting eggplant recipes because they’re coming on little by little… you may have already seen a handful of Millionaire eggplants, or a Black King or a beautiful Nubia in your CSA boxes. One of our members confided to me that he gives his eggplant to a co-worker before bringing his veggies home to his wife, who loves eggplant. He just can’t stomach it, he said. Horrifying, I know. (Are you reading this anonymous CSA member? Horrifying.). 

Well, for all of you eggplant haters, here’s a recipe to try before passing your eggplants along. Ivy swears that home grown eggplants are not bitter like the mass-produced specimens at the grocery store, and this recipe brings out the creamy, complex flavor of a well-grown eggplant! And it has chocolate in it. So it can’t be bad.

Sicilian Eggplant Spread with Crostini

  • 1/2 cup olive oil + 1 tbsp.
  • 1 c. chopped onion
  • 3 tbsp pine nuts
  • 3 tbsp dried currants or raisins
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano (why dry? use fresh).
  • 3 large garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 lb eggplant, cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1 tsp sugar (skip it, I think. There’s plenty of sugar in the raisins or currants). 
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 c tomato sauce
  • 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • s/p
  • 1 loaf of awesome Bread Board bread, sliced 1/4″ thick. 

Preheat oven to 350 (for toasting the bread). 

Heat 1/2 c of oil in a large saute pan and add the onion, pine nuts, currants and oregano. Cook down until onions are translucent. 

Reduce heat and add garlic, eggplant, sugar, cinnamon and cocoa. Cook and stir frequently until eggplant begins to brown around the edges (about 15 min). 

Add tomato sauce and vinegar, cover, and simmer until eggplant is tender (about 30 min). Season with s/p and let sit for an hour for the flavors to come together. 

Meanwhile, brush the bread slices with oil and season with s/p. Bake in a single layer for about 15 min, until they’re brown around the edges. 

 

I might also add that eggplant doesn’t need much to be delicious. Wendy Bennet at the Wine Country Cooking Studio says to just poke them with a fork and bake them whole at 425 degrees until they’re soft in the inside. That’s it. Just add a little salt and pepper and enjoy! If you haven’t already taken one of her classes, you should. I like to think that Jon and I are pretty good cooks, but we learned a LOT from her this week! 

Anyway, give eggplants a chance. 60 million Italians can’t be wrong.

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