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Recipes: 'Vefa's Kitchen'
Recipes: 'Vefa's Kitchen'
So many of the elements of the Greek kitchen are well known, yet for one reason or another they don't add up to something we turn to night after night. Maybe that's because there hasn't been a basic, here's-how-we-do-it Greek Joy of Cooking until now. This recipe appears in Vefa's Kitchen, by Vefa Alexiadou, Phaidon Press Inc., 2009.

Octopus With Eggplants (Aubergines)

3 1/4 lb octopus, cleaned
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 bay leaf
20 black peppercorns
4 1/2 lb eggplants (aubergines), cut into bite-size pieces
1 cup olive oil
1 onion, grated
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
3 large ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper
4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley

1. Put the octopus into a large pan, add the vinegar, bay leaf and peppercorns, and pour in water to cover. Cook for about 45 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, sprinkle the eggplants with salt and let drain in a colander for 30 minutes.

3. Heat half the oil in a pan. Add the onion and garlic and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, until softened. Add the tomatoes, sugar and balsamic vinegar, season with salt and pepper, and cook for 5 minutes.

4. Drain the octopus, cut into bite-size pieces and add to the sauce. Cover and simmer for about 35 minutes, or until the octopus is tender and the sauce has thickened. Meanwhile, rinse the eggplants, drain and squeeze out the excess moisture.

5. Heat the remaining oil in a skillet or frying pan. Add the eggplants and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, for 8-10 minutes, until lightly golden, then remove and drain on paper towels. Add the eggplants and parsley to the sauce and simmer for 10 minutes more. Serve hot or at room temperature.