Sunday, July 25, 2010

Recipe of the Week: Melintzanosalata

Aubergines to the French, Melazana to the Italians, eggplant travelled from the Iberiann peninsula to Siciliy, southern Italy and finally Greece. This little bunch was purchased on Saturday morning in Greenfield.

The following dish is interpreted from the greeks from Patience Gray, who wrote "Honey from a Weed" while traveling the Mediterranean seeking out marble and quartz mines with her lover, a sculptor. Living in the remotest of regions for months at a time, they ate like the locals. During the day he carved and she wrote and cooked, seeking advice from the wives of stone masons and the occasional wandering chef. Dinner combined fire with a surrounding abundance of things growing on trees, swimming in the sea and local wine.

This salad, actually a babaganoush of sorts combines eggplant, olive oil, lemon and garlic with some hardboiled egg. Except for lemon and oil it is all Valley.

Melintzanosalata - Eggplant Salad

"Make a vine-twig fire out of doors and, when it flares up, put a number of young shiny aubergines on a grill directly on the flames. Keep the fire going fiercely and, when the undersides blacken, turn them over. In 10 or 15 minutes they will be pulpy (they collapse) and completely black."

If you are fresh out of vine twigs, I recommend a fire fed with gas and continue as directed. Once the young shiny aubergines are fully black, scoop out their innards and mash with two cloves of garlic, two to three tables of lemon juice (to blanch) and at least one tablespoon of salt. This can be done in Greek fashion with a mortar and pestle but a food processor will work, or a couple of sharp knives. Once the mixture is the consistency of cream, add some capers (without caper juice) and top with fresh parsley or basil leaves. Patience recommends making the dish in the cool of morning and then serving it chilled "for super out of doors with hard-boiled eggs, black olives and good bread." That part requires no substitution.