The Italian eggplant (melanzane) is smaller than the American variety, although, both have a shiny, deep purple color.
In Sicily, there are small, round eggplants that are mauve-colored with white streaks. These Tunisian eggplants are preferred for their sweeter flavor.
Eggplants have a dimple at the blossom end which is either round or oval. Sicilians believe this dimple distinguishes whether the eggplant is male or female. The round-dimpled eggplants (female) have more seeds, tend to be less meaty and more bitter. The oval-dimpled (male) melanzane have fewer seeds, therefore less bitter.
Melanzane is one vegetable that is never eaten raw. I like it fried as in Eggs Nola, Eggplant Stacks, Pasta alla Norma and of course the Sicilian classic, Caponata. It is also delicious roasted with olive oil salt and pepper.
This simple marinated recipe is perfect with meat or chicken or added to pasta to create a hot entree or cold pasta salad. I enjoy it all by itself, can make a meal of it, (usually do) so I double the recipe.
- 1 eggplant, cut into cubes (peel left on)
- 4 tablespoons olive oil (plus extra to coat the cubes, while roasting)
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped
- Salt and pepper
- In a large bowl, mix eggplant and enough olive oil to lighty coat all of the pieces. (Set the bowl aside, reuse to toss eggplant with marinade).
- Place on a baking sheet, roast in a 350* oven until tender about 30 minutes (depends on the size of cubes).
- In a small bowl, mix together the olive oil, vinegar, garlic and Italian parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- When the eggplant is done, remove from oven, let cool for a minute or two.
- Using the same larger bowl, toss the eggplant and marinade together until eggplant is thoroughly coated.
- Let rest, serve at room temperature.