Thursday, November 8, 2012

Eggplant Caprese Napoleons

There is something about a recipe whose introductory remarks begin "[s]o simple, so fresh and so good for you."  This is a dish that I made for my beautiful Angel, Clare, as part of my effort to make nutritious dishes from the pregnancy books that I found.  The name -- Eggplant Caprese Napoleon -- caught my attention primarily because of the interesting combination of recipes that are brought together in this one little dish ... Caprese salads in the form of a Napoleon.

This recipe is more "Caprese" than Napoleon.  It draws from all of the ingredients in a classic, Neapolitan Caprese salad:  vine ripe tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and fresh basil.  It even includes a touch that I often add to my own Caprese salads ... balsamic vinegar.  The salad ingredients are stacked as layers, which draws its inspiration from the classic French Napoleon, a dessert featuring layers of puff pastry and filling.

The Caprese salad is actually "sandwiched" between two slices of eggplant.  The recipe calls for the eggplant to be grilled.  However, it does offer the option of broiling the eggplant slices, which is the option that I chose on this particular occasion.  Broiling the slices worked well, but it does not leave the classic grill marks on the slices that would have definitely added to the presentation.  Next time, I'll grill the eggplant.

Recipe from Healthy Eating During Pregnancy, at pg. 68
Serves 4

1 large eggplant
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus a little more to finish
1 clove of garlic, pressed or minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large heirloom or other flavorful, ripe tomato, 
     cut into 4 slices
4 ounces pasteurized buffalo mozzarella cheese, 
     cut into 4 slices
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
Freshly cracked black pepper

1.  Prepare the eggplant.   Preheat the grill or the broiler.  Slice off and discard the top and bottom of the eggplant and slice the remainder into 8 slices.  Season with the salt and let sit for 10 minutes.  Mix the olive oil and garlic in a small bowl.  Using a basting brush or spoon, brush the eggplant with garlic oil.  Grill or broil the eggplant until golden on both sides, about 8 minutes total.  If you broil the eggplant, make sure that it is not too close to the flame and watch it carefully to make sure it does not burn.

2.  Make the Napoleons.  On a serving platter, arrange 4 grilled or broiled eggplant discs. Top with a layer of tomato, a layer of mozzarella, and a final layer of eggplant.  Set aside.

3.  Make the sauce.  In a small saucepan over medium high heat, bring the vinegar to a boil and reduce to a syrup, watching carefully to make sure that it does not burn, about 4 minutes.  Carefully drizzle the syrup over the 4 napoleons, adding extra drops on the platter for decoration.  Sprinkle the basil atop the stacks and around the platter and sprinkle with salt and cracked pepper.  Serve immediately.


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