While in Halifax this summer, I enjoyed an interesting and very nice Mediterranean appetizer at the Efendy Restaurant I enjoyed it very much and, while I wanted to play around with the general theme, I departed from the original by basing it on grilled zucchini rather than fried eggplant…
The above picture shows the appetizer I enjoyed at Efendy… As I say, I enjoyed it but there a couple of things I wanted to change. First, the eggplant used in the dish was cut into such small pieces that you really couldn’t get any textural sense of its presence. Secondly, the tomato based dressing, while tasty was a bit too assertive…
By the way, did you notice that the restaurant uses the same serving dishes as the ones I have at home?
- 1 small Zucchini;
- 1 cup chopped Tomato;
- 2 tbsp. Capers, coarsely chopped;
- 1 – 2 tsp. chopped Garlic;
- ½ tsp. finely chopped fresh Rosemary;
- 3 tbsp. chopped Parsley;
- ¾ tsp. Salt;
- 1 pinch Pepper;
- 1 tsp. Sugar;
- 2 ½ tbsp. Olive Oil;
- 1 tbsp. White Wine Vinegar;
- 1 tsp. Lemon Juice;
- ¼ cup Water.
Slice the zucchini into quarters lengthwise. Sprinkle the pieces with salt and pepper, then brush with ½ tablespoon of the olive oil. Allow to sit for at least 30 minutes or so.
Grill the zucchini slices on all sides until they are barely beginning to soften and have nice grill marks on the side. By the way, in the above picture, you can also see a little tinfoil pouch on the grill… this contains some hickory sawdust that will produce a little smoke for added flavor. This is optional, but a nice additional touch. Remove the zucchini to a dish and allow it to cool.
Now, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a pan over moderate heat and add the chopped rosemary. As soon as the fragrance arises add in the tomato and the water and cook until the tomato has begun to break down into a sauce and the water is evaporated.
Stir the capers, sugar, vinegar and remaining oil into the tomato mixture and remove from the heat.
When the sauce has cooled, cut the zucchini into bite size piece and arrange in a serving dish or dishes. Stir the vinegar and chopped parsley into the tomato and spoon this over the zucchini. Allow it all to chill for at least an hour or so to allow the flavors to blend and then serve.
My wife and I had this dish with pieces of torn pita bread that was warmed just before serving. We both like the result but I think a couple of things may improve it a bit…
First, I don’t think the rosemary really worked well here and I would be inclined to omit it or else substitute dill, chives, or something else instead (fresh oregano might work too). Also, the sauce was pleasant but I think the bright liveliness of fresh tomato might be preferable to the ‘cooked’ taste. I am thinking that just allowing the flavors of the fresh ingredients to blend overnight might be really good. I’ll be working on tweaking this further in due course…