Our Sicilian hosts lived very near the beautiful Greek ruins, Segesta. The ruins were practically in their backyard!
I was surprised that there were Greek ruins in Sicily so beautifully intact since the ruins at Agrigento, Sicily get the majority of the attention since they are more extensive. Segesta does not have a modern portion or city to complement the ruins and instead modern-day life continues in nearby Calatafimi. In Segesta a small parking lot is flanked by two buildings that serve as the ruins’ cafe and souvenir shop.
High on the hill “Monte Barbaro” behind the temple was the ancient town, which was re-inhabited in the 12th century by a Muslim community and in fact the mosque ruins seem quite a bit higher than the rest of the town.
There were spectacular views at the top of the town, including a beautiful open-sided amphitheater that allowed the spectator to watch the stage and look out further onto the valley. It is still used today for performances in the Segesta Festival. Unfortunately we were there during the times of more than 100 fires that ravaged Sicily this summer (some speculation that it was the Mafia’s fault), so the otherwise beautiful views were clogged with smoke in many directions.
In fact, this was the view from the house we stayed in, one night. Three fires mere kilometers away.
Having visited Greece, I enjoyed seeing this temple because there were very few people around (the Acropolis in Greece was a madhouse) since Segesta is a bit isolated from the normal tourist paths. I also think the choice of being there from 12-3pm with the hottest sun was also a brilliant strategic move on our part (pats self on sweat-soaked back). Luckily, our hosts knew most of the workers in the two shops and we had plenty of water and bus tickets at our disposal.
There is a bit of mystery surrounding this temple as some believe that the temple was never finished in the first place and that a roof was never added, though others claim there is no solid proof for this and that it was planned to not have a roof. Others point out the lack of indication of deity for whom the temple was intended.
I got inspired from all these pictures of columns to make a column-like appetizer with all the eggplant I had left over from making Pasta all Norma.
Eggplant Parmesan Stacks
Here’s a way to turn what’s normally a main course into an accessible appetizer.
Note: To serve this hot, line the stacks on a baking tray and slide them in the oven for a few minutes to melt the cheese. Add the agrugula after removing from the oven.
2 medium eggplants
Flour (or breadcrumbs)
2 Mozzarella balls
Parmigiano (real parmesan) cheese
Tomato sauce (onions, garlic, olive oil, tomatoes)
Arugula/rocket (or basil)
Makes roughly 6-8 stacks.
- Peel and slice the eggplants into thin rounds. Layer the slices with sprinkled salt in a colander for 2 hours. Squeeze excess moisture from eggplant slices and lay on plate for easy access.
- Beat one egg in a wide bowl. In another bowl, add the flour and a few dry, finely ground spices to the flour mixture if desired: oregano, salt, pepper, garlic/onion (powder), hot pepper.
- In a frying pan, heat some oil. Pass each eggplant slice through the flour first, then the egg and then the flour mixture again. Fry on both sides until golden, and lay on a paper towel to absorb excess oil. While they are draining, make a simple tomato sauce. Saute some onions and garlic in olive oil. Add the tomato pulp/sauce and simmer for a few minutes.
- Wash and dry the arugula. Slice mozzarella balls into thin rounds. Assemble the stacks by putting a small dab of sauce at the bottom, placing the first eggplant slice, then layering the mozzarella, a sprinkle of parmigiano, arugula and sauce. Depending on how thick your mozzarella and eggplant slices are, you should be able to stack 2-3 layers high.