“……… I DO THIS, MY WAY! …..”
A fruit of many different names – its common name is ‘Eggplant’, in British English it is called ‘Aubergine’ and here and the whole of South Asia and South Africa its ‘Brinjal’. And although it is technically a fruit – the Brinjal is all over the world used as a vegetable.
I have been collecting different Brinjal recipes now for a very long time – so today I take you to Italy, to Milan to be precise.
My friend Antonia had a splendid housekeeper, Maria, who was an excellent cook. Every time we visited Antonia’s home she used to spoil us with one delicious dish after the other. I have only one major regret – that I did not take lessons from Maria. There was always so much to do in a relatively short time that cooking lessons, I am afraid, were put on the back burner.
If and when you make this dish, try to get the little Baby Brinjal – ok, so they will be 5 minutes more work but, oh, your effort will be well rewarded.
Maria served those with polenta, cooked, cooled and then cut into squares and fried in little olive oil. Do not count calories this time, just use little oil. Those little ones are also very good to be used as part of a buffet, hot or cold – they are equally good. Two bites – and they are gone. But do not fret too much if you cannot get the baby Brinjals – just use their big brothers instead.
Maria called this “una ricetta da cucina povera” (a recipe from the poor kitchen).
This recipe is for 2 as a starter or for 1 hungry person a main dish.
6 x Baby Brinjal
1 x cup (homemade) pasta sauce
6 x cloves of garlic
A handful of fresh basil leaves (or 1 tsp dried basil)
1 x tsp of red chilli flakes (or 1 ½ tsp of paprika powder)
½ x cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese (or more!)
2 x Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
Wash and dry (with a paper towel) your Brinjal.
With a sharp knife cut each one in half and then cut out enough flesh to make a ‘boat’ without cutting into the skin. Do not remove the little stem
Cut the flesh very finely and keep aside.
With a brush ‘paint’ olive oil inside and outside of the Brinjal.
Add 2 tsp of oil into a pan, when hot fry garlic quickly without letting them get brown.
Add chilli flakes (or paprika), stir and then add the chopped Brinjal flesh.
Cook on medium to low heat for a few minutes, until the flesh is quite tender.
Now add your fresh basil (or dried) and the pasta sauce, stir and let simmer for another few minutes.
Add salt and pepper – taste.
When everything is cooked fill your little Brinjal ‘boats’ with this mixture and sprinkle plenty of grated cheese on top of each one.
Transfer to a baking pan or to a low (ovenproof) serving dish – as seen in my photograph – and bake in oven at 180 C for 20-30 minutes.
That’s it – enjoy