Melanzane Fritte with Roast Capsicum Puree, Agrodolce & Pine Nuts
2 large eggplants
2 tsp table salt
100g pine nuts, lightly toasted
1/3 bunch flat leaf parsley, picked
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1L vegetable oil for frying
40g caster sugar
½ tbsp water
60ml balsamic vinegar
60ml red-wine vinegar
125g dried currants
4 cloves garlic, finely sliced
Roast Capsicum Puree
100g sweet potato, peeled and cut into 2cm cubes
¼ long red chilli, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 medium red capsicum, de-seeded and cut into 2cm pieces
¼ red onion, diced
¼ medium tomato, cut into 2cm cubes
¼ tbsp smoked paprika
20ml extra-virgin olive oil
25ml red-wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Cut each eggplant lengthways, into 4 wedges. Cut a small strip off the skin side of each wedge so it can sit stable on a flat surface. Take a knife and deeply score the flesh side of each wedge 6–8 times, halfway to the skin side. Be careful not to cut all the way through.
Place a wire rack into a tray. Put the eggplant wedges onto the rack and salt them evenly. Let them sit for at least an hour, to let excess moisture drain away.
Preheat a fan-forced oven to 180°C.
For the agrodolce, put caster sugar and water in a small pot and place on a medium-to-high heat. Gently shake the pot to encourage the sugar and the water to melt and start to caramelise.
When the sugar and water start to become thick and a very light golden-brown colour, add the balsamic and red-wine vinegar. Bring to the boil then add the currants. Bring back to the boil and take off the heat.
Once cooled to room temperature, stir through the garlic.
To make the roast capsicum puree, place sweet potato, chilli, garlic, capsicum, onion, tomato, paprika and olive oil on a baking tray. Mix all ingredients together and bake for 30–40 minutes or until all the vegetables are soft and nicely coloured.
Add the oil to an electric deep-fryer or large pot and heat to 180°C.
Place roasted vegetables and red-wine vinegar in a food processor. Blitz until as smooth as possible. If the mixture looks a little dry, add 1/3 cup water. Pass blitzed mixture through a fine mesh sieve, pressing down with the back of a ladle, leaving you with a smooth puree. Season with salt and pepper.
To cook the eggplant, give the wedges a quick shake to remove residual salt and a light squeeze to remove the excess water. Fry in small batches for 6–8 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove from fryer or pot and dry on paper towel.
Once all the eggplant is cooked, place in the oven for 8–10 minutes until the inside of the eggplant is nice and soft.
To finish the dish, put a few large of smears of the capsicum puree on the bottom of the plate and arrange eggplant on top. Combine the agrodolce, pine nuts, parsley, olive oil and a pinch of salt and spoon it all over. Finish with a small drizzle of olive oil.
This is an extract from The Broadsheet Italian Cookbook: Recipes from Australia’s Best restaurants, cafes and bars.