In our family everybody loves eggplants and I use them in many dishes all year around. My Mom even used to preserve roasted, peeled and drained under a press eggplants for the winter, because unlike now days, we had them only in late summer and in autumn. She also stuffed the eggplants with shredded cabbage, carrots and spices then tied the whole thing with celery root shuts and pickled in small wooden barrels and we couldn’t wait for them to get ready. Thanks’ God, I have the luxury of making anything I want and comes to my mined out of eggplants. This appetizer is very versatile and can be made with a lot of deferent vegetables, spices, herbs and it would be very delicious on baguette crostini.
• 3 medium uniform eggplants cut into 1/2-inch rounds, unpeeled
• 1/2 cup pure olive oil
• 5 garlic cloves, peeled and slightly smashed
• 3 anchovy fillets, rinsed, patted dry and chopped
• 1 cup pitted Kalamata or green olives, drained, patted dry
• 2 teaspoons lemon juice
• 2 teaspoons prepared mayonnaise
• 1 package (12 oz) frozen artichoke hearts, thawed
• 2 roasted red peppers, homemade or prepared, chopped
• 1 medium onion, finely chopped
• 4 garlic cloves, diced
• 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• 2 tablespoons balsamic or red wine vinegar
• 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning mix
• 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
• Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
• Fresh flat- leave parsley, to finish the spread and for plating
• Capers, drained, rinsed, pat dry (optional)
Step 1\tPlace a large, preferably flat colander over a bowl; lay out the eggplant rounds and sprinkle liberally with salt each row. Cover with a slightly smaller plate and place something heavy on top. Set a side for about 1 hour.
Step 2\tTo make the spread: In a large skillet heat the extra virgin oil on medium heat. Add onion, salt, red pepper flakes and the Italian seasoning and cook stirring occasionally until softened; add garlic, cook for 2 minutes; then add artichokes, mix well and cook until the artichokes are very tender, about 15-20 minutes.
Step 3\tAdd roasted red pepper and vinegar; cook, stirring occasionally, until all liquid is evaporated, taste and if needed, add some salt. Turn of the heat; mix in black pepper and about a tablespoon of chopped parsley.
Step 4\tUsing a food processor for a smooth consistency or a potato masher for a coarser, whirl or mash until the spread is homogeneous. Set a side.
Step 5\tTo roast the eggplants and make the olive tapenade: Rinse a few times eggplants rounds and pat them dry. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Step 6\tIn small sauce pan heat the 1/2 cup of the pure olive oil; add the anchovy and cook on medium heat until completely dissolved. Turn down the heat, add garlic and continue cooking until garlic is soft and just starts to brown. Remove from stove and strain thru a fine strainer to a small bowl. Reserve garlic.
Step 7\tUsing a pastry brash generously spread the anchovy and garlic infused oil on both sides of eggplants rounds, place them on a cookie sheet (you may need two cookie sheets), lined with parchment paper, transfer to the oven and roast until softened and golden brown, about 25 minutes. Cool to room temperature.
Step 8\tTo make the olive tapenade: Place olives in the bowl of a small food processor; pulse until finely chopped. Add the reserved garlic and pulse to combine. Scrape down sides of processor and add the remaining infused olive oil, lemon juice and mayonnaise; pulse to combine.
Step 9\tTo assemble the appetizer: Divide olive mixture evenly between eggplant rounds, spreading to cover; then put a heaping teaspoon of artichoke-red pepper spread.
Step 10\tIf using Capers, sauté them for a few minutes until they warmed throw; then sprinkle on top of the spread.
Step 11\tThe olive tapenade and artichoke-red pepper spread can be made 1 day ahead, kept refrigerated and brought to room temperature before serving.