The dark purple, almost cylindrical "Moorish" variety of eggplant which is grown in Spain is an extremely popular vegetable. According to the Balearic peasants, "the island soil makes them sweet," while the fishermen claim that "the sea air removes the bitterness," and there is no doubt that Moorish eggplants do have a wonderfully sweet taste. The locals explain that "you have to make them weep away their bitterness by cutting them in half and covering them with salt, then soothing their sorrow with cool water."
There is a wide range of recipes for eggplants in the Balearic Islands, but tumbet is the most important. This dish is wonderful when freshly made, but is also delicious when left to stand and then eaten at room temperature. It can be served on its own as a main course or as an accompaniment to fish, meat or eggs. Tumbet is a magnificent example of how well the flavor of the ancient eggplant contrasts with other foods coming from the New World.
- 1 pound eggplants, cut into 1/4-inch slices
- 2 1/4 cups olive oil
- 1 pound potatoes, cut into 1/4-inch slices
- 1 pound green bell peppers, seeded and chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled
- 2 pounds ripe tomatoes, peeled and finely chopped
Place the eggplant slices in a colander. Sprinkle with salt and let sit for 1 hour.
Pat the eggplant slices with paper towels.
Heat the oil in a skillet, then fry the potato slices over low heat until soft but not golden. Transfer to a heatproof casserole as the slices are done. Fry the eggplant in the same oil and arrange them on top of the potatoes. Fry the bell peppers in the same oil over low heat. Drain the oil thoroughly from the bell peppers, then arrange on top of the eggplant and add a little salt. Leave enough oil in the skillet to cover the base of the pan. Fry the garlic cloves, then add the tomatoes and cook over medium heat for 20-30 minutes, stirring frequently. When the oil starts to come to the surface, add a little salt and strain the tomato sauce through a fine sieve. Pour over the vegetables.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Sprinkle a little of the used oil over the vegetables and tomato sauce. Transfer to the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Serve hot, warm or cold.
Recipe reprinted by permission of Weldon Russell. All rights reserved.
nutrition information per serving
1262 calories; 123g total fat; 0mg cholesterol; 31mg sodium; 43g carbohydrates; 9g fiber; 6g protein
These nutrition facts are calculated according to the ingredients listed in this recipe. Any substitutions will change these facts. Although we strive for accuracy, please note that food manufacturers occasionally change their food formulas, which could affect the calculations as shown.
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