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Recipe

Eggplant in Tomato Sauce

Servings: 4 to 6

Though eggplant is relatively delicate, it pulls in the flavor of whatever it’s cooked with, in this case garlic, fresh herbs, and tomatoes. Salting eggplant in advance is an optional step, but one I usually take the time to do; I find it gives the vegetable a creamier texture.

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 lb. eggplant (about 2 large or 3 medium)
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil; more as needed
  • 3 large cloves garlic, sliced paper thin
  • 1 tsp. finely chopped fresh oregano, plus tiny leaves for garnish (optional)
  • 1 tsp. finely chopped fresh mint
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 14.5-oz. can crushed tomatoes (about 1-3/4 cups)

Preparation

  • Trim the ends off the eggplant, slice crosswise 1 inch thick, then cut into 1-inch pieces. Transfer to a colander set in a bowl, and toss with about 1 Tbs. salt. Set a plate on top of the eggplant and weight down with a heavy object (I use a marble mortar). Let the eggplant sit for 60 to 90 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, line a large rimmed baking sheet with paper towels. Spread the eggplant on the towels, then roll up in the towels and press to dry thoroughly.
  • Heat the oil and garlic in a 12-inch skillet over low heat, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic softens, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the eggplant, and toss to coat with the oil. cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant is a shade darker and has begun to soften, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the herbs and pepper flakes, and toss. Pour in the tomatoes, raise the heat, and bring to a simmer. Cover partially and cook at a gentle simmer, adjusting the heat as necessary and adding water a couple of tablespoonfuls at a time as needed, until the eggplant is very tender but still holds its shape, 30 to 35 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover, and let the eggplant rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt. Drizzle with a little oil just before serving.

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