frequently known as: 'solanum melongena', or 'guinea squash', this fruit, oh, darn, what to say? it has not been high on my list of delectability. mea culpa, absolutely. i've eaten mostly an oil soaked mush and so never exploited its tremendous culinary menu array.
what has changed? the little farmers market stand of sharon and jeff samuels, white star farms. a truly amazing operation. two people, husband and wife at that, grow an enormous variety of hand selected produce, amongst these one of my favorite little fruits, the chinese gooseberry. and now their eggplant. i bought a couple of varieties, an italian, violetta di firenze, and the typical japanese.
research for ways to do something with these beauties, had me look at a prize from my cookbook collection: the silver spoon cookbook, bible of authentic italian cooking, claims a total of two thousand recipes, amongst them some dozen for 'melanzane'. from my arm chair near the stove i discovered 'eggplant and mozzarella'. i virtually never do straight crossovers, from cookbook to table, but like to adopt and mingle recipes with my own notions. here is my slight improvisation on this apparently traditional recipe (utilized from my silver spoon bible):
2 tablespoons plain olive oil, plus a few drizzles of the best
2 medium eggplant, halved lengthwise3 bocconcini di bufala, or one large treccia, diced, the shape is not so
important, as long as the mozzarella is really fresh
4 anchovies in oil, drained
1/2 cup tomato sauce, reduction (2 large tomatoes from above market,
reduced to a virtual paste and strained)
2 tablespoon pine nuts, lightly roasted
chiffonade of basil as garnish
pre-heat the oven to 400F, brush an ovenproof dish with olive oil.
scoop out the eggplant flesh, leaving the 'shells' in tact. dice the flesh and mix well with the mozzarella and the anchovies. season with salt and pepper, stir in the olive oil. spoon the mix into the eggplant shells and top each with one tablespoon tomato sauce. place into the prepared dish and bake for about 30 minutes. transfer to serving dish drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with pine nuts and basil.
incidentally, if you have time and feel like exploring mozzarella, sit and enjoy this: