Mallorcans serve this classic as an appetiser or in the centre of the table as an accompaniment to fish or meat. There is often no need for forks, as it just gets scooped up with a slice of local bread, bypassing even the plate.
- 1 kg (2 lb 3 oz) ripe roma (plum) tomatoes
- sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 3 fresh bay leaves
- ½ tsp caster (superfine) sugar
- 2 medium eggplants (aubergines), sliced into 2 cm (¾ in) thick rounds
- 2 tsp fine sea salt
- 250 ml (8½ fl oz/1 cup) extra-virgin olive oil
- 400 g (14 oz) potatoes, peeled, sliced into 1.5-cm (½-in) thick rounds
- 1 large zucchini (courgette), sliced into 2-cm (¾-in) thick rounds
- 1 red capsicum (bell pepper), sliced into 2-cm (¾-in) thick rings
- 1 green capsicum (bell pepper), sliced into 2-cm (¾-in) thick rings
- 1 red onion, sliced into 2-cm (¾-in) thick rings
- 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 3 tbsp honey
- 80 g (2¾ oz) walnuts, chopped
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
- Cut the tomatoes in half and grate the cut side, using the skin as a handle. Discard the skins and place the grated tomato in a fine sieve over a bowl to drain off some of the liquid. Transfer to a bowl, season with salt and pepper and mix through the oregano, bay leaves and sugar.
- Place the eggplant in a large colander with a bowl underneath and sprinkle over the fine sea salt. Set aside for 6–8 minutes to draw out the eggplant’s bitter juices. Rinse off the salt and squeeze the slices dry with a clean tea towel, removing as much moisture as possible. Heat the oil in a large heavy-based frying pan over medium heat. Add the potato and cook on each side for 8–12 minutes, until golden and cooked through. Transfer to a large plate lined with paper towel to absorb the excess oil. Repeat this process for each vegetable, cooking the zucchini and eggplant for 5–7 minutes on each side and the capsicum and onion for 3–5 minutes on each side.
- In the same pan, fry the grated tomato for 6–8 minutes, until it begins to darken in colour.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) fan-forced.
- Spoon a layer of the tomato sauce in the base of a large earthenware baking dish and top with half the garlic. Cover with a layer of potato, followed by the zucchini, capsicum, onion and finally the eggplant, seasoning with salt and pepper between each layer. Spoon over the remaining tomato sauce and garlic and tuck the bay leaves in between the vegetables. Drizzle over the honey.
- Transfer the dish to the oven and roast for 30 minutes or until you see the juices starting to bubble. Throw the walnuts on top and return to the oven for 10 minutes to toast them slightly.
- Serve the vegetables on their own or as part of a spread to accompany whatever you like. This dish goes particularly well with fish, lamb or even a big spoonful of fresh ricotta.
Recipes and images from Islas: Food of the Spanish Islands by Emma Warren, Smith Street Books, RRP $49.99