Fried Eggplant in Tomato Sauce | The Jewish Week | Food & Wine

Fried Eggplant in Tomato Sauce

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Fried Eggplant in Tomato Sauce

Credit: Clare Winfield

I was fortunate enough to inherit this recipe from a friend of mine, Julian.

Over dinner one night, he spoke at length about life growing up on a kibbutz in Israel and how big family banquets using the locally grown ingredients were the mainstay of his childhood. While he discussed all the different dishes his father used to make with great passion, it was this eggplant recipe that clearly ignited the most fire in this voice.

The great thing about this dish is its versatility. It will sit amazingly well on a cold buffet spread, as well as served hot on top of couscous or rice with a dollop of crème fraîche and a nice green salad for a great vegetarian pleaser. Either way, it seems to improve with age, so I would encourage you to make it ahead and let it stand for a couple of days in the fridge before using.

Servings & Times
Yield:
  • Serves 6 as part of a meze spread or 4 as a main
Ingredients

2 large eggplants

1/3 cup olive oil, divided

2 teaspoons sea salt, or to taste

1 large onion, thinly sliced

2 × 14oz cans really good-quality
diced tomatoes

2 tablespoons tomato paste

3 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon superfine sugar, or to taste

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

½ teaspoon ground cumin

toasted flatbread, to serve (optional)

Steps

Trim the eggplants, then slice them into ½-inch thick disks. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add enough of the eggplant slices to make a single layer, sprinkle with some of the salt, and fry gently for around 5 to 8 minutes or until they are golden brown on both sides. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels. Repeat with the remaining eggplant slices, adding a little more of the oil to the pan as needed, and then let cool.

While the eggplants are cooling, add the remaining oil to the same skillet and fry the onion with a pinch of salt over medium heat until translucent; this will take approximately 10 minutes.

Add the canned tomatoes, tomato paste, measured water, and sugar to the skillet and give the mixture a good stir. Cook over low heat until the mixture has reduced to a thick consistency, stirring every so often; this will take around 30 minutes, but stay close to the skillet so that you cankeep an eye on it.

Cut the cooled eggplant slices in half and gently incorporate them into the sauce. Cover the skillet with a lid and let simmer gently for 10 minutes. Add the vinegar and cumin and mix well, gently breaking down the eggplants to form a thick but not smooth consistency. Taste for seasoning, adding a pinch more salt or sugar if needed. Remove the skillet from the heat and either serve immediately or, even better, let cool and serve at room temperature accompanied by toasted flatbread, if liked.