Recipe Source: Scappi, Bartolomeo. The Opera of Bartolomeo Scappi. Terrence Scully, trans. First published 1570. This edition published by University of Toronto Press, Toronto, 2008 p. 361
This is another Scappi recipe, another one that is supposed to be prepared during Lent. I see no reason to restrict myself to Lent, though. They're listed as suitable for Lent to make it easy for readers to find during the weeks of "privation." (I'm using the term very loosely here, folks. It's the intent rather than the reality.) Eggplants, of course, are not really in season right now and that's probably why I was less than thrilled with this dish. They wouldn't be in season during Lent either, and it would be much more difficult to grow them in the 1570s during Lent than it is now.
At any rate, this didn't turn out to be a very strongly flavored dish. I think that if I had skipped the par-boiling step this would have been more flavorful, but I don't like to make a lot of changes to historical recipes. I did intend to make one change - I planned to skip the flouring step to accommodate my friend who is following the Paleo diet, but he wound up having to stay home due to my illness so I went ahead and used flour anyway. (Most of the food was pre-made, but he was having surgery two days later and he Did Not Need to catch what I had.)
It's funny, though - the finished product kind of looked like a Turkish dish of fried mussels that I've always wanted to try.
Medieval Fried Eggplants (serves 6; approx. $1.44/serving)
4 eggplants, sliced
1/2 cup (approx.) whole wheat flour
1 cup olive oil (approx.; use more if needed)
Kosher salt to taste
Black pepper to taste
1 cup orange juice
- Large saucepan
- Large, deep saute pan
- Shallow bowl for dredging
- Slotted spatula
- Bowl for mixing
- Fill the saucepan with water and bring to a boil.
- Add the eggplant and cook to about half-tender, about five to seven minutes. Drain in the colander.
- When the eggplants are rather drier and cool enough to be touched (be patient), dredge them in flour.
- Heat the oil in the saute pan.
- Working in batches, fry the eggplants in the oil. Remove them with the slotted spatula and arrange them on your serving platter.
- When all of the eggplant slices have been fried, whisk together the salt, pepper and orange juice.
- Pour the dressing over the eggplants and serve.