Tomatoes-peppers sauce, or “Salata Kocha” (i.e. “cooked salad”), as it is known in Ladino, is a condiment that can be found in any Sephardic household at any given time. The sauce is cooked until it has almost jam-like texture and is used for just about anything: as a side for roasted beef or chicken, or fried fish dishes, with pastries such as Boyos and Burekitas, as a spread for sandwiches, as a base for cooking eggs…you get the picture!
In the following recipe, the sauce is added to fried eggplant slices. Here, again, the uses are numerous – serve them at room temperature as an appetizer with thick yogurt or cheese, as a side dish for all of the above mentioned foods, in sandwiches with cold cuts – or in any other way you choose.
* As you can see from the photos, the peppers I’ve used are pale green with thin skin (sometimes sold as “gypsy peppers”). Do your best to find them, as they are the only ones suitable for this sauce.
* As for the tomatoes, the best type would be Roma tomatoes. Other types will also work, but may need longer cooking time.
* The sauce is rustic, so the tomatoes are not peeled. If you prefer a more delicate sauce, you can remove the skins before cooking, as shown HERE.
* Sprinkling the eggplants with salt for a few hours, makes them absorb minimal amount of oil while frying. Don’t skip this step, or you’ll end up with soggy and oily eggplants.
* For best results, top the fried eggplants with the sauce while still warm.
* The sauce will keep, in an airtight container in the fridge, for 7-10 days. The eggplants – for about 3 days.
* For more information about Sephardic origins, check under THIS post.
Make ahead time for the eggplants: 4 hours/overnight
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cooking/frying time: 1 hour
For the eggplants:
1 medium eggplant
Oil for frying
For the tomatoes-peppers sauce:
2 Tbs olive oil
3 garlic cloves, chopped
½ jalapeno pepper, or to taste, chopped
5-6 medium tomatoes (see notes), roughly chopped
2 large green peppers (see notes), roughly chopped
2 tsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1. The eggplants: with a serrated knife, remove the ends and cut the eggplant into medium thick slices. Place the slices on a work surface and sprinkle a bit of salt on both sides. Place in a colander and let the eggplants “sweat” for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight. When ready to fry, pat dry and squeeze the slices gently with paper towels.
2. Preheat oil for shallow frying in a large pan over medium-high heat. Fry the slices until golden on both sides. Place on paper towels, to absorb extra oil.
3. The tomatoes-peppers sauce: preheat the oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and jalapeno and fry for 30 seconds. Add the green peppers, mix and fry for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, salt and pepper. Mix and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for about 40 minutes, mixing occasionally, until the tomatoes break down, the peppers are soft and most of the liquids evaporated. The consistency should be like a thick jam. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
4. Arrange the fried eggplant on a serving plate, add a spoonful of warm tomatoes-peppers sauce on each fried slice. Serve at room temperature.