Crostini de Melanzane Arroste

Italian Eggplant Crouton

The eggplant is the quintessential Mediterranean vegetable. It is served baked, grilled, sautéed, stuffed, and stewed in hundreds of ways. When broiled or grilled, the eggplant acquires a wonderful roasted and smoky taste. If you find this smokiness too intense, you may bake half of the eggplants in the oven. Remember to prick the eggplant before baking so that it doesn’t explode, although it’s not necessary if you broil it.

This and the following recipe for eggplant spread are two of my very favorites. We serve them as part of a salad assortment but each is fine on its own.

Ingredients

  • 3 large or 4 medium eggplants
  • 1 cup (or as needed) olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 12 to 18 slices grilled or toasted croutons
  • Chopped fresh parsley for garnish

Method

Preheat the oven to 450° and heat the broiler or grill.

Broil 1 large or 2 medium eggplants, turning several times, until soft all the way through, about 15 minutes. Prick the other eggplants with a fork and bake, turning once, until they’re very soft to the touch, about 50 minutes. Let stand until cool enough to handle.

Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a small skillet over low heat. Add the garlic and cook for a minute or two to remove its bite. Do not let it brown!

Cut the eggplants in half and carefully scoop out the pulp. You should have about 3 cups. Discard the skins. Coarsely puree the eggplant in a food processor or with a knife by hand. Place it in a bowl and stir in the remaining oil, the garlic, and vinegar. Fold in the capers and season to taste with salt and pepper. If the eggplant tastes too smoky or bitter, stir in a little more olive oil. Spread the puree on the croutons and garnish with parsley.