Vegan and gluten free fried eggplant recipe with green peppers and tomatoes! Serve it as a vegetarian main with warm pita bread, rice or your favorite grain. You can also serve it at room temperature as an appetizer next to other Mediterranean favorites. Allow 30 minutes of inactive time.
½cuphealthy cooking oil more as needed (see post above for more information)
½cupfresh mint or parsley leaves for garnishoptional
Spread eggplant slices on paper towels and sprinkle generously with kosher salt. Let sit for 30 minutes to sweat out any bitterness. Pat dry when ready.
Heat the oil on medium-high heat (be sure the oil is shimmering but not smoking). Start by frying green peppers, skin side down, until tender and skin turns brown. (Do this carefully and use a splatter screen as recommended.) Remove from heat and place on paper towels to drain. Sprinkle with a little salt and a generous sprinkle of sumac.
In the same frying pan, now fry the eggplant. Do this very carefully (use tongs to keep your distance and a splatter screen to cover the pan or skillet). Oil should still be hot or else eggplant will absorb way too much of it. When edges of one side turn golden brown, flip over. When eggplant turns golden brown on both sides, remove from heat and place on paper towels to drain. Sprinkle generously with sumac.
If needed, add a little bit of oil to your frying pan. Now, fry the tomatoes for two minutes then add the garlic. Cook another 4 to 5 minutes, tossing gently. Turn the heat down and add 2 tablespoon of vinegar, salt, and a generous pinch of sumac. When the tomatoes are tender, releasing juices and turning bright orange in color, turn the heat off.
Assemble the fried eggplant dish. Grab a large serving platter, layer a bit of the eggplant at the bottom, then add green peppers, then the saucy tomatoes on top. Repeat as needed till you have all the veggies on your platter. Garnish with fresh mint and walnut hearts.
Cook's Tip: Do not skip the first step of salting the eggplant, it is important as it helps break it's spongy texture a bit and prevents eggplant from absorbing too much oil. If you have the time, leave the eggplant to salt for a good hour or so, then pat dry.
Cook's Tip for Safety: As mentioned in the post, use a long pair of tongs to handle the vegetables at a safe distance from the frying oil, and a splatter screen for protection and easy clean up.
Leftovers? Drain excess oil first before storing any leftover fried eggplant. Refrigerate in airtight container for 3 to 4 days. You can serve this cold as a salad or at room temperature. To reheat, use medium heat (covered and with a little added liquid.)
This recipe will serve 4 to 6 people for dinner or more as an appetizer next to other Mediterranean mezze.