Eggplants are a member of the nightshade family which include relatives such as tomato and capsicums (bell peppers).
They have high levels of fibre and contain Vitamins B6 and C as well as Calcium, Copper Iron, Magnesium, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, Phosphorus, Potassium, Riboflavin, Thiamin and Zinc.
For todays dish I've decided to combine eggplant with a few of its relatives -
A rather lovely and colourful selection of Capsicums (or Bell Peppers) that will be turned into Pepperonata.
The dish is inspired by one we enjoyed in Venice - grilled discs of eggplant topped with bocconcini, peperonata and a sliver of anchovy.
Eggplant and Peperonata Stacks
eggplant, sliced thickly
bocconcini (baby mozzarella balls)
The beauty of this dish is that the components and the dish assembly can be made well ahead of time When it comes to serving, it's simply popped into the oven until warmed through and the cheese has melted.
Prepare the eggplant:
Top and tail the eggplant and then cut into thick slices. Lay the slices out and grind a little sea salt over them.
Take a large skillet, drizzle in a little oil and a small knob of butter and place over a medium heat. When the butter has melted add the eggplant slices, salted side down. Cook gently until browned, salt lightly and turn over to brown.
It's important that you cook these slices completely as you won't be cooking them as such later, but merely re-heating. If they aren't cooked through, you'll find the eggplant has a bitter taste to it.
Once the slices have cooked, rest them on paper towels to draw away any excess oil.
Make the peperonata:
You can find the instructions to make Peperonata in an earlier post. I always make large batches because it can be stored in the fridge for upto a week and is a great flavour boost.
I wasn't able to find any of my regular brand so I've taken the opportunity to try these Spanish Anchovies.
Good sized fillets, firm without being too hard they are a mid-strength anchovy. It's unfortunate that so many people will skip the anchovy but good anchovies, such as these, add so much to a dish. They offer this lovely savoury character spike that seems to enrich the other ingredients served with it.
Assemble the dish:
Place the eggplant slices onto a baking paper lined oven tray.
Top each slice with ripped pieces of Bocconcini, followed by a good spoonful of peperonata. Finish off with a piece of anchovy.
Place these in a preheated 160°C/320°F and bake until heated through.
Serve it as part of an antipasto or as a side dish - or just enjoy it alone as a light meal.
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