I made a dinner last week that began innocently enough; I had an eggplant I needed to use, and I was curious to find a new way to cook it. When I turned to my cookbook shelves, my eyes focused on Vegetable Harvest, by Patricia Wells, one of my favorite authors. Her recipe for Eggplant Daube had intrigued me when I leafed through the book years ago, so I decided this was the night to try it.
Normally I think of Italy when considering eggplant, but this was French. And my eggplant was graffiti variety, not Asian, but I was undeterred. The recipe was simple, easy to do, and I had the time. It was delicious, and I decided to use it as an appetizer for dinner. A few remaining slices of my Field Blend sourdough were sautéed in olive oil, rubbed with raw garlic, lightly buttered, and dotted with pieces of a salt-packed anchovy. The Daube was added to the plate, and the flavors and colors were appealing.
For the entrée I selected a Shrimp and Ginger Risotto, and 30 minutes later, we had fine dinner (that’s the Italian part).
The appetizer dish went so well, I added another version. This one used sautéed fennel, along with anchovy toasts.
Wines presented an interesting opportunity. I had two open white wines, so I had the chance to compare and contrast. One was a Sardinian Vermentino (Italian), the other was an Armenian Urzana. I found the Vermentino was a better match with the risotto, but the Urzana was great with the appetizers. Hooray for eclecticism and experimentation.