Thursday, July 20, 2006

Crispy Eggplant Layered with Tomatoes, Provolone and Basil

Last week we tried a new restaurant in town called The Beacon Street Tavern. The menu, albeit small was wonderful. I tried their eggplant dish which was fried eggplant, diced tomatoes and mozzarella cheese. It was really great, almost like hearty eggplant lasagna without the pasta. I knew as I was licking my plate and salivating for more that I would be trying this dish at home real soon.

The dish is a little cumbersome only due to the actual process of sweating the eggplant, then battering it twice and pan frying. It takes a few steps, but is well worth it.

I began with the eggplant. I sliced it in rounds, starting from the bottom and working my way to the top. I made the slices relatively thin, slicing this way produced way more rounds than I had anticipated that I would get out of one eggplant. I then "sweated" the eggplant, a process that I learned watching Emeril a few years back. Eggplant contains so much water naturally, that when cooked has a tendency to become soggy. The process of sweating just gets the water out of the eggplant before you cook it, thus eliminating the possibility of soggy eggplant. To do this, you simply sprinkle the eggplant on both sides with salt, and allow to sit for about ten minutes. Do not worry about the amount of salt that you are putting on the eggplant; it will drip off the eggplant with the water that is extracted, and will not stay with the eggplant.

After the sweating was complete I dipped the eggplant in an egg wash containing egg, milk, parsley, oregano and basil. I then coated the eggplant with a flour mixture containing, flour, corn meal, parsley, oregano, basil, black pepper and salt. I then repeated this step, thus double battering the eggplant allowing it to get very crispy while in the sauté pan.

I heated olive oil and a little butter in a deep sauté pan. When hot enough, I layered the eggplant in the hot oil to cook, crisp and brown on one side, this generally took about three to four minutes per side. When the eggplant was cooked I laid them on a paper towel lined try to absorb some of the excess oil.

To make I placed one eggplant round on the plate, then added a slice of provolone cheese, topped with heated diced tomatoes and three basil leaves, I then added another layer of eggplant, cheese, tomatoes and basil to create two layers which seemed sufficient.

If this isn't enough, this whole meal was prepared post Operation: Clean Out The Cabinets and with a kitchen that only slightly resembles a kitchen. See below. No cabinets, also note lovely vineyard inspired wall paper. Hmm, purty.

This post is part of ARF/5-A-Day Tuesday over at Sweetnicks helping to promote the use of Antioxidant Rich Foods in daily cooking.


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