Chef Walter’s Flavors + Knowledge: Eggplant Marinated in Olive Oil
Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Master Chef Walter Potenza, GoLocalWorcester Food Expert
Marinated eggplant makes a great antipasto, alone or as part of a larger spread. It also works as an accompaniment to grilled meat and fish. However you serve it, I strongly suggest you make sure to save enough for a sandwich. Country bread with marinated eggplant, prosciutto, and mozzarella it’s really, really good.
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 medium eggplants, about 1 pound each
8 cups water
2 cups white vinegar
2 cups extra virgin olive oil
½ cup, loosely packed fresh mint
¼ cup, loosely pack fresh oregano
3 large slices fresh garlic
Dissolve salt in large bowl of water. Peel eggplants; cut crosswise into ¾ inch thick slices. Place eggplant slices in salt water. Line a baking sheet with kitchen towel. Combine 8 cups water and vinegar in large non-aluminum pot. Bring to boil. Drain eggplant in colander. Working in batches, add eggplant to vinegar water and cook just until tender but not mushy, about 3 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer eggplant to baking sheet, arranging in single layers.
Cover eggplant with another towel. Press gently on eggplant to absorb liquid. Repeat for each batch, using dry towels to remove as much liquid as possible. Drain eggplant on dry towels for 1 hour.
Cut eggplant slices into ¾-inch cubes. Transfer to large bowl. Mix in 1 cup of olive oil, herbs and garlic. Salt the mixture to taste.
Transfer to 1-quart jar. Add enough remaining oil to cover. Cover and refrigerate for 2 days or up to 1 week. Let mixture stand at room temperature for 2 hours before serving.
Notes on eggplant
Eggplant is low in calories -- just 20 calories per cup, mostly from carbohydrates, a potent source of energy. It comes loaded with vitamins and minerals, but its health benefits extend beyond just adding vital nutrients to a meal. Eggplant contains other compounds that promote good health as well, even to the point of helping to prevent cancer and lowering cholesterol. Once you realize how beneficial eggplant is to your health, you may want to give more consideration to it becoming a regular part of your diet.
Apparently, way back in the 1700s, early European versions of eggplant were smaller and yellow or white. They looked a bit like goose or hen's eggs, which led to the name “eggplant." Eggplants were first cultivated in India approximately 4000 years ago, where they were widely used in a variety of dishes, both cooked and raw. In this region the eggplants harvested were of the recognizable dark color and distinctive shape. As other cultures adopted eggplants into their diets new varieties were developed, including those that were white, tan, and other light shades with varying shapes.
As the cultivation of eggplants migrated east in the 4th century, Asian cultures found a variety of uses for the oddly-shaped food in a number of dishes - some of these recipes are still used today. Around 500 A.D. eggplants first appeared in the writings of China. Once they caught on, eggplants enjoyed great popularity in China. As East met West, the Moors and Turks brought back this strange new food to their own territories.
Master Chef Walter Potenza is the owner of Potenza Ristorante in Cranston, Chef Walters Cooking School and Chef Walters Fine Foods. His fields of expertise include Italian Regional Cooking, Historical Cooking from the Roman Empire to the Unification of Italy, Sephardic Jewish Italian Cooking, Terracotta Cooking, Diabetes and Celiac. Recipient of National and International accolades, awarded by the Italian Government as Ambassador of Italian Gastronomy in the World. Currently on ABC6 with Cooking Show “Eat Well." Check out the Chef's website and blog.
Catch a Film at the Elm Draught House
Okay. You caught us. The Elm Draught House isn't in Worcester. It's in Millbury. A stone's throw away though!
If you haven't been to this place, you're missing out. They serve food, beer and wine during the movies. All the movies are second-run, so if you miss it in the big theaters, you can always catch a few here. Or if you're like us, you just wait for them to get to this place so you can drink a beer and watch a good movie.
The theater opened sometime in the late 1930s-early 1940s.
Best part? It's only $5. And the pizza is pretty good.
Where: 35 Elm Court, Millbury
Have a Solid Breakfast at Miss Worcester
Earlier this spring, Buzzfeed.com named the Miss Worcester Diner the #1 Diner in America to eat at before you die.
And it's #9 on our list of anything you can do in Worcester...so you do the math.
Miss Worcester opened in 1948 and was built by the Worcester Lunch Car Company. In 2003, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
And that's all well and good, but the best part is the food and the service. Just all around excellent. You'll be eating in history.
Where: 300 Southbridge Street, Worcester
Image: "Miss worcester" by Improbcat - Own work
Eat a Regatta Sandwich from the Regatta Deli at the Regatta Races
A Worcester classic. If you plan on catching the Regatta Races this summer on Lake Quinsigamond, plan on working up an appetite. Lucky for you, right across the street is the Regatta Deli where they serve their famous Regatta Italian grinders.
Where: 28 Lake Avenue, Worcester
Walk/Jog/Hike (Skip?) Through the Bird Sanctuary
You probably didn't know this (or maybe you did), but there are some great walking and hiking paths behind the Audubon Society on Massasoit Road in Worcester.
Want to be at peace and escape the city without really leaving the city? Take a brisk walk through the Bird Sanctuary. If you don't feel better by the time you leave there...then turn around and go back in.
Where: 414 Massasoit Road, Worcester
Have Pizza at the Wonder Bar
Granted it's not open yet. But it will be! And when it does re-open under new ownership of the Prizio family (Regatta Deli), they swear it will have the same famous pizza as before.
You may want to get in line outside the door now because that place is going to be crazy packed when it's ready.
The Wonder Bar is one of GoLocalWorcester's 15 to Watch in 2015, and we are watching...and we are hungry.
Where: 121 Shrewsbury Street, Worcester
Have a Beer at Moynagh's, the Cosmopolitan, and Moynihan's
These are the three oldest bars in the city - the oldest is Moynagh's - and they all opened in the early 1930s. They're neighborhood bars with the best clientele.
At the very least, go in and have a beer or a drink. That way you can tell everyone you know that you've been to the oldest bars in the city - and in no way is that depressing.
Head on down to Moynagh's on Saturday nights and see the Birdman. Tell em' GoLocal sent you.
Where: Moynagh's Tavern - 25 Exchange Street, Worcester
The Cosmpolitan - 96 Hamilton Street, Worcester
Moynihan's Pub - 897 Main Street, Worcester
Catch a Concert - Any Concert - At Ralph's Chadwick Square Rock Diner
Someone recently told us that they went to Ralph's for the first time ever in their life. And they had a great time. And they're in their 50s.
They told us, "We can't wait to go back. We don't care when."
And that's usually the response Ralph's always get. You will have fun and you will be having fun in a Worcester landmark. And they rock as hard as anyone in the city.
Where: 148 Grove Street, Worcester
Enjoy a Sunset at Grill on the Hill at Green Hill Golf Course
Like everyone that's ever been there says, "It's like you're not even in Worcester." And when it comes to the sunset, that's a great thing. Easily the best sunset in Worcester - having a restaurant with a great deck and good food and drinks make it even better.
Also, great place to watch the Worcester Fireworks from.
Where: 1929 Skyline Drive, Worcester
Have 2 Coney Island Dogs with the Works
We're being generous here. No one can eat just two...right? And there's no better way truly experience Worcester than to have your hot dogs smothered in yellow mustard, chili sauce and chopped onions.
Where: 158 Southbridge Street, Worcester
Take a Tour of the Speakeasy in the Cellar of Hotel Vernon
There are some catches to this. First, someone has to be there to give the tour. Second, that someone has to be willing to give the tour. Third, it can't be busy - so go during the afternoon.
It's one of the coolest, must-see experiences you'll find in Worcester. Babe Ruth used to drink in the speakeasy in the cellar. There's a secret back door, a dumbwaiter and a bar.
Where: 16 Kelley Square, Worcester