Eggplant with Fresh Mint, Kalamata Olives, Jalapeno and Ricotta Salata

To serve 4 as a side dish or 2 as a main dish

1 pound slender Asian eggplants
1/4 cup olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and slivered vertically
1 small tomato, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 small handful fresh mint, about 1/2 cup of leaves stripped off the stems
1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted
3 ounces ricotta salata, crumbled in largish pieces

1. Trim off the tops of the eggplants and cut them into 1/2-inch chunks.

2. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large pan over a medium flame. Saute the onions and garlic for 1 minute, then add the eggplant and sauté for about 8 minutes until it becomes soft and creamy and starts to brown around the edges. The eggplant will quickly absorb most of the olive oil, so add the remaining 2 tablespoons as soon as needed.

3. After 8 minutes of sautéing, add the jalapeno and tomato and cook for 2 to 3 minutes more.

4. Remove the eggplant mixture from the heat and add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Stir in half of the mint leaves, and all the olives and crumbled ricotta salata. Set the mixture aside for 5 minutes so that the flavors can mingle. Just before serving, stir in the rest of the mint and serve warm.
added by Marwa El Odessi

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