Eggplant is not really the obvious choice to pair with this beer, but I just felt like they would go well together. And they did. See, you've got to trust your instincts! This eggplant appetizer comes from my sister's father-in-law. He owns a wonderful little Italian restaurant in Lima, Peru called Trattoria Napoli (here's their facebook page). I know most of the people reading this probably don't live anywhere near Peru, but if you ever make it there you should definitely check this place out. Everything there is made from scratch daily. Along with delicious pastas, pizzas, and calzones , he makes the most amazing eggplant ever. It's covered in Parmesan cheese and marinated in olive oil and balsamic vinegar overnight. He recommends eating this dish with lots of bread and wine. It is certainly delicious with wine but I decided to go down a bit of a different path.
Sorachi Ace is a delicious saison from Brooklyn Brewery. It's made with a Japanese hop called Sorachi Ace, which gives the beer it's lemony flavors. This is a unique and complex beer that you've really just got to try. So, the eggplant soaks in the olive oil and balsamic vinegar after being cooked and is all tender and oily. The brightness and flavors of lemongrass in the beer provide a nice contrast to the eggplant. The carbonation cuts through the oil and you get a fresh palate to enjoy the flavors all over again. It's also got these hints of herbs and spice that work really well with the flavors of the dish.
Here's what you need:
- olive oil
- balsamic vinegar
- a few garlic cloves
- Parmesan cheese
- parsley (you could also use other herbs, I added a little bit of thyme which went nicely with the beer)
Cut the eggplant into 1/4 inch slices. People often suggest salting eggplant to either get rid of the bitterness or remove the water. I've done it with and without salting and I don't really think it makes a difference here. So I don't bother (I'm also pretty impatient). Heat the olive oil in a large pan. Add eggplant in batches. Add salt and some minced garlic. Cook the eggplant slices on both sides until they start to brown. Then remove and add the next batch to the pan. While those are cooking, drizzle the eggplant that's done with olive oil, a little balsamic vinegar, Parmesan cheese, and chopped parsley. Once it's all cooked you can leave it to marinate overnight or eat immediately with bread.