Keep Your Hands Off Of My Eggplant!
My mother Rose would make this eggplant dish in the summer, when mint was growing plentiful in the garden. She didn’t grill the eggplant. Usually she would fry the slices till golden or bake them in the oven with some oil on the bottom of the baking pan and drizzle some oil over the top. I don’t think the eggplant comes out as good baked. I prefer frying them or grilling. You can either grill them on a cast iron grill, outdoor barbecue or a range top grill.
This dish is not complicated and uses simple ingredients. But after it’s done, and you let it sit for a while, you can’t get enough of it. My brother Richard would hoard this all for himself when my mother made it.
I dedicate this dish to my brother Richard, who could never get enough of eggplant, no matter how it was prepared. Richard has eggplant in his blood, he is one with the eggplant. The eggplant Force is strong within him, and if given a choice between a winning lottery ticket and eggplant Parmigiano, he would pick the eggplant.
One day my brother was sitting at my grandmother’s kitchen table enjoying his eggplant and my sister walked by and asked him for some. My brother refused to give her any and leaned over the dish guarding it with his arms. My sister pleaded with him to give her a taste but my brother became more adamant and told her to get lost. So my sister did what any other sibling would do when faced with that situation…she sneaked up from behind and when my brother’s guard was down she smashed down on the eggplant with her hands, squashing it between her fingers, throwing it all over the table.
My brother convulsed with rage, my grandmother was frozen in shock at the thought of all that wasted food, and my sister ran from my brother’s fury. Served him right. My sister ran for cover in the bathroom and slammed the door on my brother’s face, which enraged him even more. And in the back ground you could hear my grandmother pleading for them to stop and mumbling, “bicata,che vergogna, ” ( what a shame).
My brother had many doors slammed in his face by my sister and my cousin Concetta who would take pride in getting my brother pissed off. Concetta would pick at my brother’s head, picking at the short hairs of his crew cut. He would chase her around the house and one day in our basement Concetta slammed a door on my brother with glass panes and my brother went right through it, shattering the glass. That ended the chase. My brother lived another day to enjoy his eggplant.
- 2 medium eggplant
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon freshly chopped mint
- hot pepper flakes
Wash eggplants. Cut off the stem and bottom end. Cut eggplants into 1/3 inch thick slices, lengthwise.
Sprinkle each slice liberally with kosher salt and layer in a colander. Place a plate on top of the eggplant and put a heavy weight, cast iron pan or pot filled with water, on top of the plate to press the eggplant in the colander. Let sit for at least an hour.
Rinse and pat dry the eggplant. Brush each slice on both sides with olive oil.
Grill the slices until golden on both sides. Transfer to a large serving dish. Or you can fry the eggplant. You can skip the step of brushing the eggplant with oil if you fry them. Place the fried eggplant on paper towels to absorb the oil. Transfer to a large serving dish.
In a medium frying pan, cook the garlic in the oil for 1 minute over medium flame. Add the vinegar and sugar and cook for 2 minutes.
Spoon this mixture over the eggplant slices. sprinkle the top with the oregano, mint and hot pepper flakes.
Have plenty of Italian bread on hand to eat and “mop” up this dish with! It makes a great appetizer and goes well stuffed inside a hero sandwich with your favorite cold cuts.
Mangia! Richard, Mangia!