I generally feel kind of so-so about eggplant, even if I love its shape and dark purple color. But I love it in dishes where it kind of slips into the background, like rustic ratatouille. The same goes for eggplant tricolor.
I found the recipe for eggplant tricolor in “Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi” by Yotam Ottolenghi, given to me on a whim by my friend Rebecca. The cookbook is a collection of recipes the author wrote for a vegetarian column called The New Vegetarian in The Guardian’s weekend magazine.
Vegetables are increasingly gaining more attention from chefs as more consumers are interested in cutting down on their meat consumption, an effort the author respects even he himself isn’t a vegetarian.
“Recent campaigns for the reduced consumption of meat emphasize how wasteful it is to gain our calories from meat rather than vegetables, pulses, or grains. This argument and the general sense of over-indulgence over the last few decades have convinced many to include less meat in their diet, to make it special and valuable again,” writes Ottolenghi in his introduction to “Plenty.”
I feel it is really true that we’ve gotten away from understanding the value of meat – that it has become too accessible and inexpensive to remember what is involved in processing animals into packaged meat. I’m not vegetarian but I aspire to the theory of just using meat as flavoring or highlighting it for special occasions.
Eggplant tricolor is a traditional Italian dish and featured in “Plenty.” Ottolenghi mixes it up a bit by suggesting the use of cilantro instead of basil. But I went with basil, because it reminded me of the classic mozzarella and tomato summer salad caprese.
I love the colors in this dish! I made this to go as a side with a breaded baked cod fillet (wild caught). The leftover salsa continued to develop rich flavors and I mixed it into salad for a tangy kick.
From “Plenty” by Yotam Ottolenghi
3 medium eggplants
Sea salt and black pepper
1 yellow pepper, diced
10 cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
3-1/2 tablespoons capers, plus 1 tablespoon of the caper brine
5 ounces fresh buffalo mozzarella
1 cup cilantro (or 1 cup basil)
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut the eggplant into 3/4-inch coins. Place the slices on the baking sheet and brush both sides generously with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the eggplants begin to soften an turn golden brown. Allow to cool.
2. While the eggplant roasts, combine the bell pepper, tomatoes, vinegar, capers, and brine, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Set aside for 30 minutes.
3. To serve, arrange the eggplant slices, slightly overlapping, on a serving dish. Break the mozzarella into large chunks over top. Spoon over salsa and finish with the cilantro or basil leaves.
Note: The salsa will keep for several days in the fridge. The flavors will deepen and meld. Use as a topping for grilled or baked fish, or stir into a leafy salad.
Related post on Kitchen Report: Rustic ratatouille