Anyone who knows me is aware of my love of purple, so it should come as no surprise that when I saw bright purple mini-eggplants at the farmers market, I had to buy a couple. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a plan for what I would actually do with them, so a week or so went by before I got around to finding a recipe to use them in. Luckily the eggplants were still usable, and I found a very yummy-sounding recipe in Emeril Lagasse’s “Farm to Fork” for Eggplant Relish Crostini. I had some miscellaneous pasta leftover, so decided to use this relish type thing as a topping/sauce for pasta instead of on bread. There are lots of rumors about eggplant being hard to get right as it can remain bitter when cooked, but this was pretty simple, and absolutely delicious. The eggplant shrinks down a lot, so it doesn’t make a huge amount, and next time I will definitely make more and buy some bread to make the crostini. I used sundried tomatoes instead of roasted red peppers because I had those in my fridge, but the tomato flavor really came through and were one of the highlights of the dish, so I would use them again instead of red peppers. This does have a quite long list of ingredients, but most of the ingredients are fridge/pantry staples anyway, so this could be an easy weeknight dinner or a great party appetizer served on toasted bread.
Eggplant Relish Crostini/Pasta Sauce
Adapted from Emeril Lagasse’s Farm to Fork
Makes about 3 1/2 cups relish
Equipment: Knife, peeler, frying pan, wooden spoon,
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 pounds eggplant (about 2 large), peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup sundried tomatoes stored in olive oil (about 3 from a jar)
1 1/2 tablespoons basil leaves, finely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons finely chopped nonpareil capers
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper/red pepper flakes
Crumbled feta cheese for garnish
French bread brushed with olive oil and toasted (for crostini)
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large frying pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Add half of the cubed eggplant and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Cook, stirring often, until eggplant is tender and caramelized, about 8-10 minutes. Remove to a bowl and repeat with the remaining eggplant. Set eggplant aside until cooled to room temperature.
Add all of the remaining ingredients to the cooled eggplant (except feta and bread, if using), and stir gently to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Set relish aside for at least 30 minutes to allow flavors to mingle. To serve, toss with pasta and top with crumbled feta, or serve on toasted rounds of bread drizzled with olive oil and topped with feta.