Eggplant Sautéed with Zucchini and Quince Tarhana

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Serves

    4

Appears in

The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen

By Paula Wolfert

Published 2003

  • About

Here's a savory vegetable sauté followed by a slow gentle simmering that develops late summer vegetables such as zucchini, eggplant, and squash into a meltingly tender mélange that is irresistible and delicious. It doesn't look like much because the colors wash out, but the vitality of the dish comes from the flavor of the very special quince-flavored tarhana, a kind of Turkish pasta.

Ingredients

  • 2 thin Italian eggplants, pounds
  • Coarse salt
  • ¾ cup Quince-Flavored Tarhana
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1½-inch chunks, or 1 large Yukon Gold potato, peeled and quartered
  • 2 pale green zucchini, about ½ pound, trimmed and cut into 1½-inch lengths
  • 1 red ripe tomato, grated
  • ½ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 imported bay leaf
  • 1 small dried hot red pepper
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • Brined sheep's milk cheese, such as Turkish peynir beyaz or feta, crumbled, as accompaniment

Method

  1. Peel the eggplants and cut into 1-inch lengths. Soak them for 30 minutes in salted water to remove any bitterness.
  2. Meanwhile, soak the tarhana in 1½ cups water to soften, 10 minutes. Drain, squeeze out the moisture, and place in a small saucepan. Add fresh water to cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  3. Drain the eggplant, squeeze gently to remove as much moisture as possible, and pat dry. Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until golden and softened. Add the eggplant and sauté until golden on both sides, about 3 minutes. Add the squash and maintain sufficient heat to seal all sides and create some caramelization around the edges, about 5 more minutes. Tilt the pan and remove the excess oil. Reduce the heat, add ½ cup water, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
  4. Add the zucchini, grated tomato, parsley, bay leaf, hot pepper, and, if dry, ¼ cup water. Cook over medium heat, stirring now and then, for 10 more minutes.
  5. Reduce the heat to low, sprinkle the cooked tarhana evenly on top, cover, and continue cooking for 15 minutes without stirring. Discard the hot pepper and bay leaf. Season with salt to taste. Remove the skillet from the heat and let stand, covered, for 30 minutes. Serve warm or cold with a sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper. Pass a bowl of brined white cheese on the side.
With thanks to Mirsini Lambraki for inspiring this recipe.