My wife brought home an eggplant from the farmer’s market a few days ago and asked I make a meal without meat this week. I was in the mood for pasta anyway so here is what I did.
While making dinner the night before, I took the eggplant sliced it about ¼ of an inch thick, sprinkled some table salt on both sides and laid the circles on a wire rack over a sheet pan, covered it and placed it in the fridge overnight. The reason for doing this is to “sweat” the bitter juices out of the eggplant. I feel this really helps the flavor of the eggplant come through better and be less bitter.
The next day I took the eggplant out of the fridge, quickly rinsed the salt off the circles, dipped them in flour, then egg wash and then in seasoned bread crumbs.
I fried them in a large non stick pan with a little olive oil over medium heat. Set those aside on a wire rack to cool.
Now let’s build the stack. Start with some of your tomato sauce on the bottom of a pan that can go in the oven. That’s so it doesn’t stick to the pan. Then place an eggplant disk on top of the sauce. Top that, in my case with some left over pesto sauce and some tomato sauce and on top of that, some mozzarella cheese. Repeat 3 or 4 more times. Make sure not to put the cheese on the top layer just yet.
Set the oven to 325F. Place the eggplant stack in the oven for about 20-25 minutes to cook while you are boiling the pasta to go with the meal. After the stack is thoroughly heated, pull it out and top with some more of the mozzarella cheese and leave it in the oven until the cheese is nice and melted.
Pour yourself a nice glass of Italian red wine, sit down and eat your Italian feast.
Some of my friends and I did a little get together because we are all very busy with work and family. My contribution was to make the appetizers for the 40 or so people who would be there. So let’s get to it!
I actually cheated a little and bought some puff pastry sheets from the grocery store, let them come to room temperature, floured the kitchen counter and rolled it out to form a large rectangle.
Next step was to mix some homemade pesto into some ricotta cheese and spread it on the pastry dough thinly and top it off with some Parmesan cheese.
Now top the mixture lightly with some roasted red peppers and top with the finest prosciutto sliced very thinly.
Roll tightly, making sure you seal the end with a few drops of water and pinch the open ends of the “log” like in the picture.
Place into the freezer for about 20 minutes to let the dough firm up. Once cold it can be sliced into pinwheels, usually I would get 12 to 14 slices out of each log.
Place the wheels on a lightly oiled parchment paper and lightly brush the tops with some olive oil and bake at 425 F for about 17 – 20 minutes. Pull the parchment paper off the baking sheet and let them cool a little before transferring to your serving dish.
Enjoy them warm. Really good especially served with some homemade apple pie moonshine, scored some big points with my friends!
Here is a quick way to impress last minute guests!
Start with 1 sheet of the frozen puff pastry dough that you might have in the back of the freezer, bring it up to room temp and unfold it. Then carefully cut about an inch in from the edge but not all the way through and then take a fork and dock it. That is just a fancy term for poking a lot of holes in the puff pastry with the tines of a fork.
Now place the dough in a pre-heated 425F oven and cook for about 10 – 13 minutes or until the outside puffs up and is golden brown.
While it is baking grab a bowl and add 1 cup of ricotta cheese, ½ cup of Parmesan cheese, ¾ cup of Mozzarella cheese, a handful of fresh basil from the garden cut thin, 1 Tbsp of chopped garlic some salt and pepper. Stir it all together.
Once it is done pull it out of the oven, set it on the counter and turn down the oven to 300F.
Fill the inside of puff pastry with the cheese mixture and score it so the topping has somewhere to nestle into. So now you can top it with whatever you have handy, for us we had some baby onions and cherry tomatoes from the garden and some broccoli from the fridge. Sprinkle some good olive oil over the top and add the last little bit of shredded mozzarella and bake in the 300F oven for about 25 minutes or until it’s brown and bubbling.
So let it cool for a few minutes and serve it with some salad for a nice afternoon snack along with your favorite white wine. Enjoy
Sorry, no picture of the final product. It was so good, the family ate it all before I could snap one.