Updated: May 20, 2022
Basque cuisine is full of dishes that have unusual flavor combinations. This is one of those dishes that stand out and sets the tone for the rest of the meal. This dish is served in a small tapas bar called Quimet i Quimet rated by many critics as the best tapas bar in Barcelona. Every wall lined densely with wine bottles, they serve a wide variety of small bites loaded on Spanish rusks, called montaditos, many created at the whim of the owner. This dish is one of his creations.
The soft roasted eggplants are brought alive with the sweet and bright tomato jam and completed by the salt from the anchovy fillet and cheese. The perfect mouthful with all the flavors in perfect balance. When I decided to make this tapas I was intrigued by the combinations of flavors, but could not stop wolfing these down on first bite. Always make more that you think you are going to need.
This is one of my favorite cookbook for tapas and other Spanish foods. I have cooked quite a few recipes from this very hefty cookbook, and all of them, like this one are superb. The recipes are true to their core, full of flavor and absolutely delicious. Combined with the fact that I absolutely love Spanish, particularly Catalan, cuisine, this is a cookbook that I go to a lot. I highly recommend this cookbook for those who would like to have great Spanish cuisine on their tables.
For more recipes from this cookbook click here.
For the eggplant stacks:
6 baby Japanese eggplants or 1 large purple eggplant
Olive oil spray
Salt, to taste
Sprinkling of pepper
Tomato jam, see recipe below
6-8 oil-packed anchovy fillets
Balsamic vinegar syrup (see note)
Extra-virgin olive oil
Manchego or Parmesan cheese
For the tomato jam:
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 ripe tomatoes, finely diced
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons honey
Salt, to taste
1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice
Make the eggplant stacks:
Heat the oven to 375 F.
Slice the Japanese eggplants in half longitudinally. If using the large purple eggplants, cut it into long batons, about 3 inches in length and 1/4 inch in width. Lay the eggplant in a single layer on a lined baking sheet, sprinkle salt and pepper and spray generously with olive oil. Bake for 20-30 minutes in the oven till the eggplant is soft and cooked and lightly golden. Remove, cool and set aside.
Meanwhile make the tomato jam:
Heat the oil in a small pot and add the tomatoes, sugar, honey and salt and mix in. Cook on a medium flame for 20 minutes till all the liquids have evaporated and the oils have emerged completely. Add the lemon/lime juice and mix in. Taste and adjust salt and tartness.The tomatoes will have decomposed and turned to mush. Cool and store in the fridge with the oil floating on top for 1 week in the fridge.
Layer the tomato jam on the bottom of a wide plate. Warm the eggplant slices and lay the broiled eggplants on the tomato jam layer. Add 1/2 an anchovy fillet to each stack, curling it a bit for appearance. Drizzle with the balsamic syrup and top with shaved Manchego cheese. Serve immediately with some bread to scoop up any jam from the plate.
NOTE: You get balsamic syrup easily, but in case you need to make some, take 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar and simmer for 15-20 minutes till reduced to 3-4 tablespoons. It will be sticky and syrupy. Cool and store in a dry bottle.