I love eggplant.
At Christmas time every year my sister-in-law's Italian husband prepares the most delicious eggplant rollatini. I have always been intimidated by the thought of trying to cook eggplant, so I simply dream of dinner at the in-laws all year long. In fact I almost never buy eggplant and prepare it at home, it's always been one of those things I only order in restaurants.
When I was at the supermarket the other day, there seemed to be an abundance of beautiful purple eggplants. As I caught my reflection in the glare of a particularly large eggplant's shiny skin, I said to myself "how foolish are you that you allow yourself to be intimidated by a vegetable?" I defiantly placed 2 of the shiniest eggplants in my cart.
This eggplant recipe not only makes good use of abundant eggplant, but it's also a great way to use up any fresh basil and garden tomatoes you're probably overflowing with right about now (if you're lucky enough to have a garden).
If making your own pesto is not your thing, feel free to substitute the ready made variety from your supermarket.
The stacks turned out delicious and I think I showed the vegetables in the produce aisle that I won't be intimidated any longer....brussels sprouts, your next.
Eggplant, Tomato and Pesto Stacks
1/3 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup Italian style bread crumbs
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 medium sized eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch thick slices
1 1/2 cups diced plum tomatoes
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 basil leaves
Pinch red pepper flakes
1 1/2 cups basil leaves, packed
1 tablespoon pine nuts
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese
12 thin tomato slices
6 tablespoons mozzarella cheese
Basil leaves for garnish
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Mix together the flour, salt and pepper on a small plate, pour the breadcrumbs onto another small plate and pour the beaten eggs into a shallow dish. Dredge the eggplant slices first into the flour, then into the egg and then into the breadcrumbs, coating both sides. Place the slices onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake in the center of the oven for 30-35 minutes, turning once, or until golden brown and tender.
To prepare the sauce, in a small food processor or blender, combine the tomatoes, olive oil, basil, and pepper flakes; process until almost smooth. Transfer mixture to a small saucepan and warm over medium temperature for 5-10 minutes.
To prepare the pesto, in a small food processor or blender combine the basil, pine nuts, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and parmesan cheese; process until smooth.
Preheat an oven broiler.
To assemble the stacks, divide the pesto between the eggplant slices spreading on one side of each. Place a tomato slice onto six of the eggplant slices then top the tomato with the remaining eggplant slices (pesto side up). Top each with the remaining tomato slices then sprinkle each with a tablespoon of the mozzarella cheese. Place stacks under the broiler until cheese is melted and bubbly.
To serve, spoon a portion of the sauce onto each of 6 serving plates, top with an eggplant stack. Garnish with basil leaves and additional pesto.
Yield: 6 servings