I love Cucina Povera: the frugal cook’s eggplant

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I made Babaganoush (eggplant patè) this morning. The recipe requires the eggplant to be baked and then the flesh to be scooped. At this point all cookbooks tell you to discard the peel. However, if you scoop the flesh carefully there’s always a thin amount of flesh left.

Being a true cucina povera cook, I have created a very tasty side dish with them.

After you have scooped carefully the flesh from the eggplants slice the skin in slices. You have no rules here except that you should add some salt to the skins. Apart from that you can season them as you like. One of my favourite seasonings is cumin, and chilly powder. Keep aside.

Make a Pastella – an Italian frying batter made of water and flour. I find Pastella wonderful because it does not soak up oil like a sponge and instead always gives you a very thin and deliciously brittle crust. It is perfect for frying vegetables.

Any flour will do, but I prefer using rice flour to add an extra crunchiness. I find it to be just the perfect flour for this kind of dish.

1 cup of water
Flour (any kind, in my case, rice flour)

Put the water in a bowl and add the flour little by little, constantly stirring the mixture. I am used to do it with my fingers so I can feel the consistency, but you can use a fork. When the tip of my fingers get coated or the batter has the consistency of sour cream you are done.

Dip the slices, a few at a time into the batter and make sure they get evenly coated. Lift them from the bowl and fry. The oil must be hot enough to sizzle on contact with the eggplant. Do not overcrowd the pan. Leave some space between the slices. When a fine golden crust forms on one side, turn the slices over and do the other side. Transfer them to a plate lined with paper towels.

You can serve it as a side dish or as an appetizer with any kind of salsa you like.

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