Thursday, November 17, 2011

Grilled Eggplant and Heirloom Tomato Stack with Balsamic Reduction

Pictured below are the various eggplant we grew this year and about which I wrote here: Long Purple, Ichiban, the Italian_ Melanzana 'Violetta lunga', and this lovely heirloom Solanum melongena 'Rosa Bianco'.

Rosa Bianco
came on so slowly that we feared we would have very few, and that we did, but enough so that we thoroughly enjoyed them. Once they began to produce later in the season, this variety made for the best grilled eggplant. This past week we picked the last of them from the hoop house.

Solanum melongena 'Rosa Bianco'

Fortunately we still have some tomatoes that were picked several weeks ago and have been ripening in the pantry (each individually wrapped with a piece of newspaper). We now have what is a simple-to-prepare and favorite dish.

Grilled Eggplant and Heirloom Tomato Stack with Balsamic from Diana's kitchen

Heirloom tomatoes, thickly sliced (3/4 of an inch)
Rosa Bianco Eggplant, unpeeled and thickly sliced
1 egg, slightly beaten
Panko or bread crumbs
salt and freshly ground pepper
fresh mozzarella, sliced
fresh basil, sliced
extra virgin olive oil
balsamic reduction (see below)

Heat oven to 450F.

Slice the tomatoes and sprinkle each with kosher salt and some freshly ground pepper; set aside on a platter. Dip each slice of eggplant into the egg, then into the panko; sprinkle with salt and pepper and transfer to frying pan with just a little bit of olive oil, and saute until golden brown, several minutes on each side. Remove and transfer to a baking sheet and place in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes. Using a fork, check following the first 5 minutes; these were best when the slices maintained just a bit of firmness.

Assemble: grilled eggplant, slice of mozzarella, basil strips, a tomato, basil, mozzarella, and top with another grilled eggplant. Drizzle with balsamic reduction.

Note: Several of the long eggplants were tried on separate occasions, but our favorite was this one. I can still taste it... like a big thick portobello mushroom.

Balsamic Reduction

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

Place the vinegar in a non-reactive saucepan. Heat on medium-high until it begins to boil, then reduce the heat and simmer uncovered until the vinegar becomes a syrupy consistency. Set aside to cool.

It will become slightly thicker when cool; if it is too thick, I add a touch more balsamic; if it is too thin, put it back on the stove for further reduction. 1/2 cup of vinegar should yield slightly over 1/4 cup. I keep it stored at room temperature.