Saturday, April 18, 2009

Eggplant Stacks

Dear Eggplant,

I can't believe it's taken me so long to say this, but, I love you. I do. Your shiny purple skin is so alluring in the produce section. Your mushy flesh is so weird and filling. Your ridiculous amounts of fiber, potassium, and vitamin B will ensure that I live a long, fulfilling, successful life. Thick-cut slabs, grilled or roasted, have slipped in and displaced meat in so many of my meals, without a complaint from my tastebuds. If I sprinkle a little salt on you, my coy mistress, and let you drain for an hour before cooking, you transform from malicious and bitter to tangy and melty. I am sorry that it has been so long coming, but accept now my utter devotion and lifelong commitment to you.


Eggplant stack
1 medium eggplant
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
6 oz fresh spinach
4-5 slices fresh mozzarella
Tomato sauce
Parmesan cheese
Toasted bread (optional)

Slice the eggplant crosswise into 1 1/2 inch slabs (you want at least 4--if it makes more, go ahead and cook it and eat it the next day or two). Sprinkle both sides with table salt and let drain on paper towels or a cooling rack for an hour, flipping halfway through. Wipe and squeeze before cooking.

[Note: the picture here is NOT sliced cross-wise, but long ways--it was for another use. I included the photo just to illustrate how to drain, and can you see how much water seeps out?? So don't slice them like this, but do drain them like this.]

Drizzle eggplant with olive oil, then salt, pepper, and sprinkle basil on both sides. Arrange in a single layer on a pan and roast in a 400ยบ oven for 25 minutes. You want it cooked through, so leave it in if you still see thick green flesh. When it looks done, top the eggplant with mozzarella and return to the oven for 5 minutes, until cheese is melted.

Meanwhile, film a skillet with olive oil and saute onions with a little salt until soft, 3-5 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more. Add spinach and stir. Cook until wilted, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Make sure your tomato sauce is warmed.

To serve: place a small pile of spinach on the plate. Top with mozzarella eggplant. Spoon ample tomato sauce. Repeat. Top the whole thing with ample grated parm. Serve with extra tomato sauce and good bread.

[Alternately, you could do a big, thick piece of toast with the mozz melted on it. Top with eggplant and tomato sauce and parm. Also delicious]

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