I LOVE eggplant.
But no one else in my family does and I've never resorted to deep frying it and calling it a "French fry" like my mom did to trick us into eating them. But hey, in her defense, it must have worked because I've loved eggplant ever since I was a child, even though I have never deep fried it.
So when the boys aren't home, I take advantage of the time to cook things I love but they don't like to eat, like this eggplant ragu. Yes, I know that a 'ragu' is traditionally a meat-based sauce, but this isn't a sauce, per se. It's not a topping, a relish, a caponata or anything else I could come up with, so 'ragu' will have to do.
You can use this as a topping for pasta, as I did last night, or it could stand alone, with some goat cheese sprinkled on top for extra creamy goodness. I've also used it as a topping on grilled chicken.
Eggplant, Roma Tomato and Red Onion Ragu
1 large eggplant
5 Roma tomatoes
1 large red onion
2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
2 TBS red wine vinegar
2 TBS fresh spicy oregano
Salt and pepper, to taste
Wash eggplant thoroughly. Slice into 3/4-inch rounds. Spread the rounds on paper towels and salt liberally (don't worry about using too much salt, you'll be rinsing it off).
Eggplant holds a lot of water that can result in an end-product that is spongy from too much moisture. The salt sucks the excess water out of the eggplant before you cook it.
Let the salted eggplant sit for between 10 and 20 minutes.
It will start to sweat.
After 20 minutes, rinse the salt from the eggplant and pat dry. Dice.
In the meantime, dice your Roma tomatoes (my favorite, but use any variety you like, including ones from nearby Jacksonville)
Cut your red onions into chunks. They don't have to be pretty.
Chop fresh spicy oregano. This is my most favorite herb of late and I grow it in my herb garden. It smells good and tastes delicious. Just enough heat for any dish.
Toss oregano with eggplant, tomatoes and red onions.
Drizzle your veggies with extra virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, to taste.
Bake at 325 F for about an hour, stirring about every 15 minutes.
The vegetables will get nice and carmelized.
Serve over pasta, as a side dish or as a topping for chicken or other meats.