Eggplant Smothered in Garlic

Melitzanes Skordo Stoumbi

4 pounds large round eggplants, unpeeled and cut in 1-inch slices and salted
olive oil for frying or brushing
4 pounds ripe tomatoes, peeled, halved, seeded, and grated or two pounds (1 kg) canned tomatoes
salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon sugar to taste
2-3 tablespoons vinegar or sweet red wine (preferably Mavrodaphne)
1 head garlic, peeled and finely chopped

Preheat oven to 375º F. Sprinkle the eggplant slices with salt and leave them in a colander for 40 minutes to 2 hours to shed some of their bitter liquid. Wash and dry the slices well. Heat about an inch of olive oil in a frying pan and gently fry the eggplant slices in batches, taking care not to brown them too much. Drain on absorbent paper.

In another saucepan simmer the tomatoes with the salt, pepper, and sugar until a thickish sauce forms. Stir in the vinegar or sweet red wine. Arrange the eggplant slices in layers in an ovenproof dish, sprinkling chopped garlic between each layer. When all the slices are arranged in the dish, pour the tomato sauce over them and cook in the oven for about 30 minutes or simmer on top of the stove for about 20 minutes. The dish should not be watery and is best served lukewarm. It goes well with fresh country bread, feta and plenty of wine.



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