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Venetian Melanzane in Saor (Sweet and Sour Eggplant)

Zaira Zarotti

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Instagram: @thefreakytable | zairazarotti.com

Use more seaweed

I think seaweed is very underused at home, especially in the West. But it is extremely versatile in the kitchen; it’s tasty and rich with nutritional qualities. It is widely used and appreciated in Eastern cultures, and it can have many health benefits.

 

What countries inspire you? 

I am mainly interested in researching Italian cuisine, especially local traditions of the area where I was born, which is called Veneto. My family is from Venice, and I like to investigate my cultural roots through cooking.

 

Tang og Tare

My latest food discovery occurred during a trip to Norway. My friend Renata, who lives there, told me about a kind of seaweed that you can harvest on the beach and eat! The name of this seaweed is “tang og tare” and, once cooked, it goes from brownish-yellow to green. It is very nutrient-dense. My friend made a really good Thai dish with rice noodles, tang, coconut cream and lemon peel sauce. I’ll never forget it!

 

Melanzane in Saor is a vegan variation of one of the most traditional Venetian recipes. 

 

INGREDIENTS

1 kg eggplants (ideal quality: black round or long type, with few seeds)

1 kg white onions

½ cup white wine vinegar

½ cup raisins

100 g pine nuts

½ tsp sugar

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 cup water

1 cup coarse salt

 

To fry the eggplants, as needed:

Peanut oil

Super fine flour

Salt

*For a lighter/healthier version, you can replace fried eggplants with grilled eggplants. The result will be different but equally good!

 

METHOD

Place the raisins in a bowl and cover with warm water, then soak them until needed. Lightly toast the pine nuts in a dry pan over a medium heat. Wash and dry the eggplants and slice them into ½ cm thick pieces. Lay out the eggplants in a colander, alternating the slices with a handful of coarse salt, making sure they’re all sprinkled well. Place a heavy plate over the eggplants and let them purge from their bitter water for at least 30 minutes.

 

In the meantime, start washing and peeling the onions, then slice them very finely. Heat a frying pan over medium-low heat and add 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Add the onions together with the glass of water and cook them slowly for at least 15 to 20 minutes, stirring every now and then. Add half glass of white white vinegar and half a teaspoon of sugar and cook on low heat until reduced for at least another 10 minutes, until the onions are well cooked and slightly caramelized, but not mushy. Set aside.

 

Rinse the eggplant slices and dry very well with a paper towel. Heat the oil in a frying pan. Dust the eggplant slices in flour and deep-fry in plenty of oil until golden and crisp. Season with salt and set aside on some paper towels to drain until needed. Once all the ingredients are ready, proceed by placing a layer of eggplant in a deep plate or tray and top with some of the onions and a small handful of (drained) raisins and pine nuts. Continue layering until the eggplants are used up. The final level must be topped with onions, raisins and pine nuts. Cover with plastic wrap and let it marinate in the fridge for at least one night before serving. It will become tastier the longer you keep it in the fridge! Serve at room temperature and consume within a week. 

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