Category: Antipasto, Meze, Tapas, and Hors d'Oeuvres
Difficulty: Easy but takes non-working time
This Algerian recipe is usually served as a side dish, but it is excellent as an accompaniment to grilled lamb chops. A number of Algerian cookbooks have been published in French (there are no Algerian cookbooks in English) where it is commonplace for the Algerian authors, writing in French, to describe some dishes as “grilled,” when they are actually griddled on an oiled cast-iron or steel plate. There is a recipe in Provence that this Algerian one vaguely reminds me of, where they make a room temperature dish of tomatoes, green peppercorns, and crème fraîche. This preparation is one to be eaten the next day, once the flavors have worked their magic.
Yield: Makes 6 servings
Preparation Time: 1:15 hours
15 long and thin eggplants (about 3 pounds), trimmed
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
9 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon coarsely ground caraway seeds
6 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced or slivered
3 tablespoons green peppercorns
3 cups crushed tomatoes
Salt to taste
5 ounces imported black Gaeta or Kalamata olives (about 3 dozen)
1. Slice the eggplants lengthwise without peeling. Leave the sliced eggplants on paper towels sprinkled with salt to leach their bitter juices for 30 minutes. Pat dry with paper towels.
2. In a small bowl, mix together the vinegar, olive oil, caraway, and salt. Sprinkle on the eggplants along with the garlic and marinate 30 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, lightly oil a cast iron griddle and place over two burners, if rectangular, and heat until smoking over medium-high heat. Scrape away any excess marinade and cook the eggplant slices in batches until golden brown on both sides, about 10 minutes, turning occasionally and rearranging over the burners with long tongs so they all cook evenly.
4. Return the cooked eggplant to the marinade mixture, add the green peppercorns and tomatoes, season with salt, and leave at room temperature for 1 hour before serving. Stir in the black olives. It is even better if you refrigerate it and serve the next day at room temperature.