I was in a Spanish food market last week when a man pointed a dark green object at me and said: "What do I do with this?" I was tempted to tell him what I truly thought, after he had been so rude in his approach to me. But, in brief, I gave him some ideas for how he might get the best from the aubergine, or eggplant, that he was waving around in such a violent fashion.
I managed to drive him away by telling him that the eggplant is part of the nightshade family and that it came to Spain from India via, of course, North Africa. When I told him how the Moors used it in cooking he made a rude gesture and left. Charming!
His loss. Those of who who have studied the vast array of recipes on this site will know that I am a big fan of Berenjenas con Miel (aubergines drizzled with honey). But there are many other enjoyable dishes to be made using the eggplant.
It grows widely on both the mainland and Islands of Spain. This recipe comes from the Balearic Islands when aubergines grow well in the mild climate. Tumbet can be served hot or cold. The choice is yours.
4 potatoes, thinly sliced
2 large zucchini, sliced
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 kilo of ripe tomatoes, skinned and diced
pinch of sugar
250 mils of olive oil
Slice the eggplants and lay the slices in a large strainer. Sprinkle them with salt and leave them to drain for one hour. Heat the olive oil in a deep skillet. Fry the slices of potato until golden brown. Transfer them to a casserole and sprinkle with salt. Fry the eggplants lightly in the oil and then drain them and arrange on top of the potatoes. Lightly fry the zucchini in the oil and place these on top of the eggplants. Season lightly with salt. Keep the vegetables hot.
Pour away all but a small amount of the frying oil. Fry the garlic in the remaining oil until golden. Add the diced tomato and begin to cook lightly, while stirring. Pass the sauce through a sieve, or purée it with a hand blender. Season it with salt, pepper and sugar. Transfer the vegetables to a serving dish, and pour the sauce over them.