Eggplant ala Tavernetta

Eggplant "French fries" and tomatoes

Lars Leicht, Central Market

(eggplant, tomatoes )

Eggplant ala Tavernetta
Eggplant ala Tavernetta (sans the tomatoes)

Yield: 4 servings


4 baby or 2 medium eggplant
1½ C extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
1 small whole peperoncino or hot pepper (optional)
1 or 2 garlic cloves, cracked
24 good cherry tomatoes, halved,
      or 2-3 medium tomatoes, cored and chopped
Coarse Sea Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
a few drops of balsamic vinegar


  1. Peel off one strip of skin on each side of eggplant and discard.
  2. Cut eggplant lengthwise in ¼-in slices, then cut the slices crosswise into 1/3-in "matchsticks". Each piece should have a bit of skin.
  3. Heat skillet over a medium flame and add 1/3 cup EVOO.
  4. Add the hot pepper if using, and a minute later add the eggplant.
  5. Cook, stirring occasionally until very soft, about 10 minutes.
  6. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Meanwhile, heat a second skillet over medium heat, and add the remaining EVOO.
  8. Add the garlic, (cracked using the flat edge of a chef's knife or the plam of your hand) and cook until it colors slightly.
  9. Add the tomatoes, and season generously with the salt, pepper, and oregano.
  10. Cook about 10 min. stirring occasionally, and adding a few drops of balsamic vinegar to bring up the flavor if necessary.
  11. When the eggplant is nicely browned and the tomatoes are cooked down but not saucy, turn off the flame under both skillets, remove and discard garlic and hot pepper, and combine the vegetables.
  12. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature, alone, with slices of crusty Italian bread, or over pasta.
Note: This recipe can be varied in many ways, either by altering the herbs, adding basil or thyme instead of oregano, or including capers, olives, or a touch of orange zest. It can also be used as a condiment for fish or chicken, or as a base for a shrimp or shellfish dish.