An easy full-flavored side and salad

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Here is an easy side or salad dish with lots of flavor. Start with a small peeled eggplant and cut in half lengthwise then cut into 1/4 inch thick half moon slices. In a large sauté pan, pour just enough light olive oil to coat the base of the pan and saute the slices in batches on both sides; transfer the slices to a dish as you cook them. While they cook, cut up a couple of beef steak tomatoes into wedges. Have ready a half cup of ricotta (make your own www.ciaoitalia.com) or cottage cheese. Mince a clove of garlic with 5 or 6 fresh mint leaves.

Place the eggplant, tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste in a bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and toss well. Add the mint/garlic mixture and toss again. Cover and let marinate at least one hour at room temperature before serving. Spoon the ricotta over the top and sprinkle with the mint when ready to serve.

Great for vegetarians, for Lent, for company.

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