I have always enjoyed cooking, mainly Italian cuisine (as a quasi Italian American). Over the past few years, though, I haven’t cooked much, but since getting married, I have revisited some of my old favorite recipes – eggplant parmaggiano, various pastas and risottos, and fish. Meanwhile, my wife has started cooking Moroccan food, and it is quite addictive. My favorite so far is tagine de barkouk: a meat stew served with apricots and plums.
(As a side note: the word apricot in English and albaricoque in Spanish come from the Arabic barkouk. Nevertheless, they are false friends as barkouk actually means plum and not apricot).
In any event, during a recent trip through Tuscany, we were surprisingly a little disappointed by the food, having been completely enamored by Roman cuisine on our last visit to Italy with its preference for tomatoes and basil as opposed to the heavier, gamier Tuscan dishes. Nonetheless, I returned with a new pasta in mind: grilled eggplant, black olives, cherry tomatoes, a little ricotta and lots of fresh basil.
First I cut the eggplant and set it on paper towels to soak the liquid and remove the bitterness. Next, I cut the olives and cherry tomatoes and put them in the pot with oil olive. I close the pot and let it slowly simmer for about 30 minutes, during which time I start boiling the water for the pasta and grill the eggplant. Once the water is boiling, I throw the pasta into the water, and then put the eggplant into the sauce.
Finally, when the pasta is ready, I mix it into the sauce, add a little bit of ricotta and fresh basil.
So good! A healthy vegetarian meal and an apolitical blog post.