My husband has this wonderful cookbook called "Italy in Small Bites" which is full of appetizer/tapas-type recipes and I have yet to try a bad one out of it. After the obligatory Thanksgiving meal of beige food we were in the mood for something more interesting. So we hit the grocery store, spent an ungodly amount of money on delicacies, and came home to cook for four hours.
The Sparring Partner made three bruschetta-type toppings: black olive pesto, sausage and pecorino cheese crumble with basil, and sweet bell pepper mash. I made a spinach pie with lots of onion and parmesan cheese, and these amazing little toasted balls of eggplant mixed with breadcrumbs and more parmigiano-reggiano.
I only started sampling eggplant in the last few years, and while some of the dishes I've had were fairly uninteresting, a couple have knocked my socks off. The ratatouille recipe I've devised is pretty good, and our favorite Chinese restaurant has a wonderful stuffed eggplant appetizer that I've been known to hoard from my dining companions.
The eggplant veg-balls recipe is simple and easy to make: peel and dice an eggplant, salt it down and let it sit for 20-30 minutes, then sauté in olive oil until mushy. Mash up in a bowl with breadcrumbs, cheese, parsley and pepper. Make little balls on a broiler pan and singe it for five minutes. Tastes like a really high-level potato pancake, the kind you might get in a French restaurant alongside the foie gras.
The spinach pie was likewise very good, although I can't handle that much unrelenting onion/spinach texture and flavor. If I were to do that again, I'd put a sprinkling of the sausage-pecorino mixture in the filling before sealing it up: the spinach and sausage complement each other nicely. And the crust-recipe was first-rate; for a savory pie I think I like it even better than my old standard crust recipe.
For the record, I was very restrained in my Thanksgiving eating. I didn't overeat, didn't feel bloated the next day. But Friday I ate so much bread and cheese and pesto I literally gained three pounds overnight. When I sin, I make it count.