This Sicilian eggplant appetizer gets a texture fix thanks to some walnuts and a flavor boost from preserved lemon. Also featuring peppers, tomatoes, black olives and fistfuls of fresh herbs.
In a large skillet (my 12" works) heat a healthy dose of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, Aleppo pepper, sumac, strong spice and tomato paste and sauté until onions have softened up and tomato paste darkens.
Add pepper, eggplant, vinegar and coconut sugar. Continue to cook stirring frequently for about 10 minutes. If things start to get sticky you can add a little water but do so sparingly.
Add tomatoes, olives, preserved lemon, parsley and oregano. Stir and cover.
Cook covered, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant breaks down to your desired texture. Around 15 minutes.
Remove from heat, stir in basil and walnuts. Serve warm with plantain chips and/or bread.
Strong spice mixture is a blend of long pepper, black pepper nutmeg and clove. I got it from a cookbook which gave me permission to reprint the full recipe on my blog in Romania, a medieval chicken dish. The spice mix is in the notes on that recipe. If you sub freshly ground black pepper, use less. 1/2 a teaspooon should be plenty.
A NOTE ABOUT SALTINESS
The combo of preserved lemon and oil cured black olives may make this too salty for some. If you're concerned about that