Gather around, folks, as we elevate the humble eggplant / aubergine / brinjal to exalted heights.
As a kid, I was put off by the dark purple skin of the vegetable and its mushy insides, when cooked. Much later, when fortunately I developed some more sense, I was turned on by the earthy, smoked flavor of the North Indian ‘baingan bharta’ – a quite delish mash with spices, ginger-garlic, tomato and onions, sprinkled with coriander / cilantro as a topping. So this one is somewhat a Euro variation of the same; certainly not the way my mom made it.
Take a largish eggplant, wash it and slice thin. Shallow fry the slices on a pan with a mild olive oil and keep them aside, draining the excess oil on a piece of kitchen tissue.
Finely chop a couple of onions and some garlic and tomatoes. Fry the onions, adding the garlic and then the tomato in that order and use the same pan, it’ll save you some washing! Sprinkle some salt and crushed black pepper and once done, set this aside, too. Add some rosemary and chopped black olives.
And then, this – a couple of strips of bacon cut into small pieces and fried crisp, or use ready bacon bits if you’d rather. I’m partial to bacon, it’s something that works magic with everything it’s added to and I think it does its trick in this dish, too. To me, bacon is the differentiator, making it the essential ingredient here, so if pork is a no-no, maybe you could try turkey instead.
Add the bacon to the tomato-onion and place it on the eggplant slices. Top it with some powdered parmesan, tuck in a few shoestring potato chips for a crunch-at-first-bite and eat away!
It’s not a whole meal by itself, but think of something you’d like it to go with and it will! It’s also a smart way of making your kids eat eggplant if they otherwise don’t!