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Melanzane Calabre, Calabrian Eggplant

Hot weather and spicy foods go hand-in-hand; here’s a tasty chilled eggplant dish from Calabria that will work nicely as antipasto or vegetable in the summer months:

  • 4 long eggplants, peeled, cut lengthwise into 1/2 inch (slightly thinner than 1 cm) slices, and salted for an hour
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 hot peppers, minced
  • Minced fresh oregano to taste
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 1/2 cup extravirgin olive oil
  • Salt

Rinse the eggplant slices, boil them 3-4 minutes, and lay them on a towel to dry. Make an emulsion of the vinegar and oil, and stir it into the herbs. Put a layer of eggplant in a dish, season it with the oil, put down another layer of eggplant and continue until all is used up. Chill for 4-6 hours before serving.

Pimmaduori Siccati, Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Sun Dried Tomatoes

Sun Dried Tomatoes

This recipe is Calabrian, and is drawn from Ottavio Cavalcanti’s Il Libro d’Oro della Cucina e dei Vini di Calabria e Basilicata. It calls for ripe tomatoes (plum tomatoes will be best) you should dry yourself; before you begin check the weather forecast because you’ll need several days of hot dry weather with intense sunlight.

You’ll want at least 2 pounds (1 k) of sun-ripened plum tomatoes.

Slice the tomatoes lengthwise, set them on a rack with the cut surfaces up, dust them with salt, put them out early in the morning (if where you live has a lively insect population cover them with fine netting), and bring them inside at night lest dew fall upon them as the temperature falls. Continue setting them out each morning until they are dry. Depending upon the humidity where you live this could take 2 or more days.

You’ll then need:

  • Garlic (SEE NOTE)
  • Oregano
  • Freshly shredded mild or hot pepper to taste
  • Basil
  • Vinegar
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt

Rinse your dried tomatoes with water and vinegar. Mince the herbs in the proportion that suits your fancy, and then layer the dried tomatoes in a jar, sprinkling the herbs and some salt over each layer. Press well, then fill the jar with olive oil, shaking repeatedly and tapping the sides of the jar to make sure no air pockets remain. Seal, and let the tomatoes sit in a cool dark place for a few months, at which point they’ll make a fine antipasto, over slices of crusty bread. They will also be quite nice sliced fine in cold pasta dishes or insalata di riso, and as a general flavoring agent in zesty dishes. .

NOTE: recent studies have shown that garlic packed in oil can harbor botulism. Therefore, if you hear a hissing sound as you open the jar discard the contents. Or, to be safe, omit the garlic.