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Chef's Corner: Learn to make an easy eggplant and red pepper appetizer

Hector Santiago, the executive chef and owner of Pura Vida Tapas in Atlanta, was the special guest chef at the Village Kitchen as it recently celebrated its first anniversary.

Santiago, a native of Puerto Rico, entertained the audience at the sold-out demonstration. He showed the crowd how to make his Spanish-style tapas, also called “small plates.”

He first came to Atlanta in 1995 to open his restaurant, hoping to capitalize on all the people converging in Atlanta for the 1996 Olympics. Santiago said many other chefs had the same idea, which has broadened the restaurant pool in the city.

ESCALIVADA

2 medium-sized eggplants

2 red peppers

2 Vidalia onions

1 tablespoon Kosher salt

2 sprigs of thyme

1 tablespoon Spanish sherry vinegar

Garlic chips (recipe below)

Clean all the vegetables; leave the skin on the onions.

Cook over hardwood charcoal at medium heat or under a broiler until very soft. Make sure to char the outside.

Let the vegetables cook slightly. Peel the pepper, removing all the veins and seeds. Peel the onion and cut in quarters. Cut the eggplant in half, then cut into long strips.

Arrange all of the vegetables in a deep plate. Season with a bit of Kosher salt, sherry vinegar, thyme leaves and garlic chips.

GARLIC CHIPS

1 bulb garlic, sliced very thinly

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Peel and slice garlic thinly. Blanch in salty water for one minute. Strain and chill on a sheet pan.

Once the garlic chips have cooled, place in a pan with olive oil to fry at medium heat until golden brown. Remove from the oil, drain and lightly salt.

Coming Aug. 18: How to make Ceviche Tradicional

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