Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Seared Eggplant Stacks with Mozzarella and Basil Oil

Serves 6
Recipe from Vegetarian Times
Husband-Tested in Alice’s Kitchen

We had a small gathering of friends over for a Labor Day dinner party. Lost River Market & Deli had some lovely little “graffiti” eggplants. They seemed just the perfect size for this dish. I made the basil oil a couple of days before the party and stored it at room temperature. The rest of the dish was a cinch to make. The eggplant stacks turned out pretty as a picture and made a very nice, but unusual side dish to go along with the grilled chicken I made. I served them at room temperature. This dish got the thumbs up from everyone at the table, including the three husbands (one of which was my own) who were in attendance. I had some basil oil left over, so I’ll use that when I make a salad.

Basil Oil
1 cup tightly packed fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup olive oil

3 baby eggplants (1 lb.), sliced into 30 ½-inch-thick rounds
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 leek, halved, white and light green parts cut into half-moons
4 Tbs. white wine vinegar, divided
1 6-oz. ball fresh mozzarella, sliced into 6 rounds
2 Tbs. capers

To make Basil Oil: Blanch basil 5 seconds in 4 cups boiling, salted water. Drain, and plunge into ice water. Pat basil dry, then purée in blender with olive oil. Season the basil oil with salt and pepper. Strain oil with mesh strainer, and discard basil.

To make the Eggplant Stacks: Generously salt eggplant slices, and set in colander placed over bowl. Let stand 45 minutes to release liquid.
Meanwhile, heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Add leek, season with salt, and sauté 5 to 7 minutes, or until softened. Transfer to bowl.
Coat a nonstick skillet with cooking spray, and heat over medium heat. Add half of eggplant slices, and season with salt. Cook 5 minutes, or until browned and caramelized, using spatula to move slices often to prevent sticking. Flip eggplant with spatula, add 2 Tbs. vinegar, reduce heat to medium-low, and cover. Cook 5 to 7 minutes more or until vinegar has evaporated and second side of eggplant is caramelized. Remove eggplant slices to covered bowl to keep warm. Repeat with remaining eggplant slices.
To serve: Place mozzarella slices on serving plates. Top each cheese slice with 5 slices eggplant, 1 Tbs. leek, 1 Tbs. Basil Oil, and sprinkling of capers. Season the eggplant stacks with salt and pepper.

Nutritional Information Per Serving: Calories: 236, Protein: 6g, Total fat: 20g, Saturated fat: 5.5g, Carbs: 9g, Cholesterol: 22mg, Sodium: 402mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugars: 3g

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