Leaning Tower of Eggplant
I’m a big fan of the caprese salad in every way it’s presented. From uniform overlapping slices or stacked like an Italian flag, to a jumble of tiny mozzarella balls and cherry tomatoes or roughly rustic chopped. Summer is the perfectly ripe time for this salad and I could truly enjoy a simple caprese salad with a chunk of ciabatta bread for dinner any night! But when I’m looking for a bit more; it’s this tower of crispy, melting, cheesy delight I go for!
Eggplants are always in my grocery basket. Usually I have no specific plan for their use while also knowing they will find their way into something within the next few days! Lately, I’ve been obsessed over making them into eggplant fries, which I now totally prefer over zucchini fries hands down! Following the similar method of roasting the egg white/breaded eggplant slices instead of frying; the slices are then topped with a slice of tomato and mozzarella. A drizzle of reduced balsamic vinegar is drizzled over and served warm; totally a melt-in-your-mouth explosion of flavor!
Just recently Chicaandaluza posted her eggplant stack layered with marinara. This too is a great idea; check it out also!
1-2 eggplants (depending on amount to be served)
1 egg white (or 2 depending on amount of eggplant)
½ cup panko/bread crumbs (or more)
2 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon dried oregano or basil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Olive oil for drizzling
1 ball of fresh mozzarella, cut in ¼ inch slices
1-2 tomatoes (size to match the eggplant), cut in ¼ inch slices
Fresh basil leaves, enough for each slice
¼ cup Balsamic vinegar (see below to reduce to a glaze)
Slice eggplants about ½ in thick and layer with salt on a plate for 1 hour. Drain well and press down to release any liquid. Preheat oven to 420 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet with a rack on top. Spray the rack well with cooking spray. Beat egg white well in one bowl, in another mix the bread crumbs, cheese, dried herbs, salt and pepper. Dip eggplant slices in the egg white and then in bread crumb mix. Place on prepared rack over the baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and bake for 15-20 minutes. Turn the eggplant, top with a slice of tomato, basil leaf and a slice of mozzarella. Return to the oven and roast an additional 10-15 minutes or until cheese has begun to slightly brown and soft. Remove from oven and stack. Drizzle with balsamic glaze and serve.
Balsamic Glaze: In a small saucepan, gently simmer the balsamic vinegar until reduced by 2/3. Cool and set aside until needed.