Tag Archives: eggplant

Lamb, Bulgur and Chickpea Stew with Roasted Eggplant

lamb bulgur stew tastefood

The other day, for the first time I made kibbeh, the Lebanese version of kefta or croquettes. A key ingredient in kibbeh is bulgur (cracked wheat), which was a revelation to me. I was afraid the bulgur would add a mealiness to the croquettes, but in fact it remained firm, adding a satisfying bite (and crunch when pan fried) to the ground meat. I liked this combination so much I decided to try it in a stew with tomatoes, white wine and plenty of spices. The bulgur slurped up the liquid producing a thick and dense ragout. While it could easily have been served in bowls as a hearty stew, I spooned it over roasted eggplant to lighten it up a bit. The results resembled a deconstructed dolma or vegetable stuffed with ground meat and grains, typically served in Turkish and Middle Eastern cuisine. All that was needed was a bit of crumbled feta and fresh mint to freshen up this lovely dish, and I know I’ll be making it again.

Lamb, Bulgur and Chickpea Stew with Roasted Eggplant

Serves 4 to 6

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 pound ground lamb
1/2 cup bulgur
1 cup white wine
1 (28-ounce) can Italian plum tomatoes with juices
1 cup chicken stock or water
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzos) drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped green cabbage

1 medium eggplant, sliced crosswise 3/8-inch thick
Olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Crumbled feta cheese
Fresh mint leaves, torn

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a pot or Dutch oven. Add the onion, garlic and lamb. Cook until the onion softens and the lamb browns, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and deglaze the pan, stirring up any brown bits with a wooden spoon. Add the tomatoes, stock, bulgur, paprika, cumin, cinnamon, and coriander. Simmer, partially covered, until the bulgur is tender, about 20 minutes. The stew will have thickened at this point. If desired, add more water or stock to thin to desired consistency. Add the salt and black pepper and taste for seasoning. Stir in the chickpeas and cabbage and cook over medium-low heat until the cabbage is wilted, 10 to 12 minutes.

While the stew is simmering, arrange the eggplant slices in one layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Brush on both sides with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Broil on the top rack of the oven until golden brown on both sides, turning once.

To serve, spoon the ragout over the eggplant. Sprinkle with feta and garnish with mint. Serve warm.

Grilled Ratatouille Salad

ratatouille  salad

~ Grilled Ratatouille Salad with Couscous ~

It’s that time of year when the garden is lobbing bushels of vegetables at us faster than a tennis ball machine. And it means one thing: It’s time for ratatouille. Now, mind you, this is not your traditional ratatouille. Instead of simmering a stew of Provencal vegetables on the stovetop, I’ve thrown eggplant, squash, onions and peppers on the grill until lightly charred, then tossed them with olive oil and fresh herbs. It’s a lighter version that’s very versatile. I like to serve it over couscous, tossed with pasta or spooned on top of grilled garlic bread.

Grilled Ratatouille Salad

If you don’t have a grill, the veggies may be broiled in the oven. You may either roast the tomatoes with the vegetables or toss them in at the end. (If you grill them, thread on pre-soaked bamboo skewers to prevent them from falling through the grates). If desired, sprinkle with crumbled feta or goat cheese before serving.

Serves 4.

2 medium zucchini or yellow squash, cut in 1/2 inch slices
2 red or yellow bell peppers, quartered, stems and seeds removed
1 small eggplant, sliced crosswise 1/2-inch thick
1 large red onion, slice crosswise, 1/2 inch thick
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup grape tomatoes
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup Italian parsley sprigs, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, shredded

Prepare a grill for direct cooking over medium heat. Spread the vegetables on a tray. Brush with olive oil and lightly season with salt and pepper. Grill until lightly charred and cooked to desired doneness, 6 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool slightly, about 5 minutes. When cool enough to handle, cut in large chunks. Place in a bowl with tomatoes, garlic, parsley and basil. Gently toss to combine. Taste for seasoning and add more olive oil if desired. Serve warm or at room temperature.  

Roasted Vegetable Lasagna

vegetable lasagna tastefood~ Roasted Vegetable Lasagna ~

Eat your lasagna and have your vegetables too. Roasted strips of eggplant, zucchini and red peppers alternate with lasagna sheets in this veggie-enhanced family favorite. No worries, there’s plenty of gooey melted cheese and tomato sauce rippling through this version, the most adamant veggie haters (we won’t point fingers) will be hard pressed to complain.

Roasted Vegetable Lasagna
Serves  6

Extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced, divided
1/2 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes
1 (28-ounce) can Italian plum tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon sugar, or to taste
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 large red bell peppers, halved, stemmed and seeded
2 medium eggplants, sliced lengthwise, 1/4-inch thick
3 medium zucchiini, sliced lengthwise, 1/4-inch thick
16 ounces whole milk ricotta
1 large egg
2 to 3 cups finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 (8-ounce) ball fresh mozzarella, shredded
1 box lasagna sheets (you won’t use all of them)
Fresh basil leaves

Prepare sauce:
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a medium saucepan. Add onion; saute until softened, about 3 minutes. Add 2 cloves garlic and red chili flakes; saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes, oregano, sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Simmer uncovered 20 minutes, stirring occasionally and breaking up tomatoes with a wooden spoon.

Roast vegetables:
Heat oven broiler. Place peppers, cut-side down, in a baking dish. Broil peppers until skin is blistered all over. Transfer to a bowl and cover. Let stand 10 minutes, then peel away skin. Slice peppers in 1/2-inch strips.
Generously oil a rimmed baking sheet. Lay eggplant slices in one layer on sheet, turning to coat with oil. Season with salt and pepper. Broil until golden and tender, turning once. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with zucchini slices.

Ricotta:
Whisk ricotta, egg, 1 clove garlic, 1/2 cup Pecorino, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper in a medium bowl.

Assemble lasagna:
Heat oven to 350° F (180° C). Spoon a thin layer of sauce in bottom of 8 x 10-inch baking dish or gratin. Place a layer of lasagna sheets over the sauce, breaking them to fit to size as necessary. Smear ricotta over pasta. Arrange eggplant slices over the ricotta. Spoon a little sauce over the eggplant. Sprinkle with Pecorino and scatter some of the mozzarella over. Place another lasagna sheet over the eggplant. Repeat the layering process, substituting the zucchini for the eggplant. Repeat again with the red peppers. Top with the last layer of lasagna pasta. Smear with ricotta. Top with any remaining vegetables. Spoon sauce over and around the vegetables. Sprinkle with a final layer of Pecorino and mozzarella.
Bake in oven until thoroughly cooked through and cheese is bubbling, 45 to 55 minutes. Serve warm with basil sprinkled over.

Farmer’s Market Provençal Salmon Couscous

~ Salmon, Cherry Tomatoes, Eggplant, Peppers, Leek, Couscous ~

It’s Provençal vegetable season. Peppers, eggplants, squash and tomatoes are impossible to miss (and resist) at the farmer’s market. Tables stacked with teetering piles of gypsy, poblano, Hungarian and myriad chile peppers vie for attention, showing off their glorious colors and funky, gnarly shapes. I pass a table of eggplant where shiny black beauties, the sturdy workhorse of the eggplant family, sit proudly with their brethren: skinny, lilac Chinese no thicker than a fat finger, purple and white zebra-striped Sicilian, baby ball-shaped Thai.  It’s impossible not to pick up too many, simply because they look so pretty. At home, I fill my refrigerator with as much as I can fit and save the prettiest to display in baskets and bowls on our tables.  The challenge is to remember to eat them.

Provençal Salmon Couscous

Any vegetable that you like to roast will work with this recipe, but it’s especially delicious with late summer veggies. Feel free to mix and match to your taste. I roast the vegetables separately from the salmon (except the leek) so that they won’t absorb too much fish flavor while cooking.

Serves 4.

4 thin, small Chinese eggplant, sliced diagonally, 1/2-inch thick (or one medium dark beauty eggplant, cut in 3/4-inch chunks
1 poblano pepper, stemmed and seeded, halved, thinly sliced
1 sweet red bell pepper (or other peppers you might like), stemmed and seeded, halved, thinly sliced
1 cup small cherry tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, minced
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper

1 large leek, white and pale green parts sliced 1/2-inch thick
4 salmon fillets, 6 to 8 ounces each
2 tablespoons, plus 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon Sriracha

1 1/2 cups couscous
1 1/4 cups hot water
4 scallions, white parts removed (save for another use), green parts thinly sliced

Prepare:
Heat oven to 375 F (190 C). Toss eggplant, peppers, tomatoes and garlic in a bowl with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper. Transfer to a baking dish. Bake in oven until vegetables are tender and slightly colored, 45 minutes.

Place leeks in a rectangular baking dish. Nestle the salmon filets between the leeks. Whisk 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, Sriracha, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper in a small bowl. Drizzle over fish and leeks. Using your hands, gently turn the fish and leeks to coat. Place in same oven with the vegetables. Bake until salmon is just cooked through and beginning to color on top, about 30 minutes.

While the salmon is baking, prepare the couscous. Place couscous in a large bowl. Pour hot water over. Add 1/4 cup lemon juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Stir once or twice. Cover and set aside until liquid is absorbed and couscous is tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Fluff with fork. Stir in scallions.

To serve, spoon the couscous onto a large platter or individual serving plates. Sprinkle the roasted vegetables over the couscous. Place the salmon filets in the center and scatter the leeks around the salmon. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve with lemon wedges.

If you like this, you might enjoy these recipes:
Ratatouille Gratin from TasteFood
Sambal Eggplant from Rasa Malaysia
Oven Roasted Fish with Provençal Vegetables and Basil from TasteFood
Eggplant and Red Pepper Terrine from Simply Recipes
Pasta Provençal with Basil, Tomatoes and Olives from TasteFood

Roasted Provençal Vegetable Salad

~ Roasted Provençal Vegetable Salad with Couscous ~

Consider this as a deconstructed ratatouille – which happens to be oven roasted. The same cast of characters applies, only the method differs. An end of summer symphony of squash, eggplant, peppers and tomatoes are tossed together with olive oil and roasted in the oven until softened and gently charred, instead of simmered and thickened in a pot. The traditional ratatouille stew morphs into a roasted vegetable salad, freshened with a shower of fresh herbs and served over a bed of couscous for a light and healthy meal.

Roasted Provencal Vegetables Salad with Couscous

You may either roast the tomatoes with the vegetables or toss them in at the end for extra freshness. The salad is delicious as is or served over couscous, pasta, or quinoa. Serves 4 -6.

1 medium eggplant, cut in 1/2 inch slices, each slice quartered
2 small zucchini, cut in 1/2 inch slices
2 small yellow squash, cut in 1/2 inch slices
1 large red onion, halved horizontally, each half cut lengthwise in 4 thick chunks
6 baby sweet peppers, stemmed, seeded halved
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup Italian parsley sprigs, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, shredded
Optional: Crumbled goat or feta cheese as garnish

Heat oven to 375 F. (190 C.) Place all of the eggplant, zucchini, squash and onion in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Toss to coat. Arrange on 2 rimmed baking sheets in one layer. Place in oven. Bake until vegetables are tender and turning golden brown, rotating baking pans, to ensure even roasting. Remove from oven and cool. Transfer vegetables to a large bowl. Add tomatoes, garlic and fresh herbs. Toss. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper. Serve over couscous. Sprinkle with crumbled cheese if using.

Ratatouille Gratin

~ Ratatouille Gratin ~

It’s that time of year when the vegetables sneak up on you. A month ago, summer squash were elusive, appearing in the markets in small groups at a price. In the garden they were merely a hint of themselves peeking from their flowers. Purchases felt premature, tasting a little bitter, and costing too much for something you knew would soon be prolific.

~
Then, before you know it, a month has passed and squash are teeming everywhere. The garden is lobbing them to you like tennis balls, the market shelves are stacked with zucchini, crooknecks, and patty pans, ripe and ready for consumption. With the bounty, it’s time to get creative, because, ironically, it’s easy to tire of this abundance, and that is a shame.  So, yesterday I was determined to use my imagination to celebrate summer squash. Instead of a traditional ratatouille, I made a gratin. And before I made the gratin, I played a little bit with my food and made Ratatouille Stacks.

~ Ratatouille Stacks ~

The ingredients are identical, only the arrangement is different. Serve the gratins as side dishes or a light vegetarian meal. The stacks are fun appetizers.

Ratatouille Gratin

Be sure that the squash and eggplant have similar diameters. Makes 4 individual or 1 large gratin.

2 narrow Italian eggplant
2 zucchini
2 yellow squash
Olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 red peppers, roasted, seeded, skinned (or 1 jar piquillo roasted peppers, drained)
1 bunch basil leaves
6 ounces soft, fresh goat cheese

Preheat oven to 375 F. Slice eggplant, zucchini and yellow squash 1/4 inch thick. Arrange in one layer on an oiled baking tray. Brush the tops with oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Turn on broiler and broil briefly until the vegetables begin to brown. Remove and cool.


~
Reduce oven temperature to 350 F. Cut the peppers in pieces no larger than the sliced vegetables and set aside.  Place an eggplant slice on the work surface. Smear a pea-sized amount of goat cheese in the center of the eggplant. Top with a squash slice. Smear with the goat cheese and top with a red pepper piece. Smear with goat cheese and top with a basil leaf. Repeat process, alternating with squash, eggplant, red pepper and basil leaves, always adhering with a pea-sized amount of goat cheese. (If forming stacks, top with a basil leaf and a little goat cheese, then impale with a toothpick).
If making a gratin, carefully transfer stacks to an oiled gratin dish and slightly fan out the layers. Repeat until gratin dish is full. Sprinkle with crumbled goat cheese. Bake gratin in the oven until heated through and cheese begins to brown, about 20 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Grilled Ratatouille Salad

Ratatouille Salad

Grilled Salad?  You bet. This version of ratatouille is perfect in the summer when the season is lobbing a kaleidescope of Provençal vegetables our way. Instead of simmering eggplant, squash and peppers with tomatoes on the stove in the traditional Niçoise fashion, try grilling all of them on the barbecue.  Bright, colorful, and pleasantly charred, Grilled Ratatouille Salad is a healthy, summery side dish or salad.  Serve as an accompaniment to grilled meats and fish or as a smoky, crunchy stand-alone salad with crusty pain paysan. Alternatively, head further south in the Mediterranean for inspiration and add feta cheese and kalamata olives for a twist on Greek salad.

Grilled Ratatouille Salad
Serves 6 as a side dish

2-3 bamboo skewers
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
1 large, firm eggplant, cut horizontally in 1/2 inch thick slices
2 large red onions, cut horizontally in 1/2 inch thick slices
2 thin zucchini, halved lengthwise
2 thin yellow squash, halved lengthwise
2 red peppers, halved, seeded, stems removed
1 poblano pepper, halved, seeded, stem removed
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 garlic cloves minced
1 small bunch Italian parsley leaves, stems removed, chopped
1 small bunch basil leaves, ripped in half

Soak skewers 30 minutes before grilling.  Prepare grill for a medium-heat. Thread tomatoes on skewers.  Arrange the vegetables and tomato skewers on a large baking sheet.  Lightly drizzle with olive oil, and toss to coat thoroughly.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Transfer to grill (or broil in oven). Grill vegetables over medium direct heat, turning, until lightly charred and tender.  Transfer to platter; allow vegetables to cool slightly. Remove tomatoes from skewers and place in large bowl. Cut eggplant, onions, zucchini, squash and peppers in 1 inch pieces. Add to bowl with tomatoes.  Toss vegetables with 2-3 tablespoons olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, parsley, basil. Serve warm or at room temperature, garnished with extra parsley and basil leaves.

Oven Roasted Tomatoes with Spiced Eggplant and Couscous Filling

Coucous Tomato Dolma

At this time of year I always have a surge of wanderlust. After all the holiday festivities and seasonal cocooning, the calendar turns a page, and I find myself looking ahead to a new year of infinite possibilities and potential travel.  Yet, while my imagination is packing its passport, reality dictates that I stay put, at least for the moment.  Children need to be delivered to school, money must be saved, work deadlines have to be met. So, I turn to the kitchen for a little escape. After all, if I can’t jump on the next airplane, at least I can transport my palate to a far-flung destination.

These stuffed tomatoes do just that. They are a variation of Middle Eastern dolmas.  Dolmas are vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, zucchini and eggplant that are stuffed with rice or bulghur, spices and sometimes ground meat.  Meatless dolmas are served cold or at room temperature, while meat dolmas are served warm. This is my version in which I have added feta and sautéed eggplant to the filling for extra body and flavor.  They are best eaten at room temperature, and can be made a day in advance. They are also guaranteed to bring a little exotic warmth to your dinner plate.

Oven Roasted Tomatoes with Spiced Eggplant and Couscous Filling

These are a lovely light dish or accompaniment to roasted meat, fish or chicken. Makes 8.

Ingredients:

10 vine-ripened tomatoes
Salt
1 cup chicken stock or water
1 cup couscous
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 medium eggplant, ends trimmed, peeled, finely chopped
1 small green pepper, stemmed, seeded, ribs removed, finely diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves, plus additional leaves for garnish
1 tablespoon harissa sauce
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 lbs. (350 g.) feta cheese, crumbled
Freshly ground black pepper
Freshly squeezed lemon juice

Prepare:

Selet 8 tomatoes that have the best presentation.  Slice off the tops. Scoop out the centers with a spoon, taking care not to pierce the outer flesh. Lightly salt the inside of the tomatoes and turn upside down on a plate. Set aside with tops reserved.

Preheat oven to 400 F.
Cut remaining 2 tomatoes in half.   Remove seeds and stems.  Finely dice the tomatoes and place in a large bowl.
Bring stock to boil in a sauce pan. Add couscous, 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 teaspoon salt and remove from heat.  Let steam, covered, for 5 minutes.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add chopped eggplant. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt. Sauté until softened and turning golden brown, about 3 minutes. Transfer to bowl with tomatoes.
Fluff couscous with fork and add to bowl with tomatoes and eggplant. Add shallots, green pepper, garlic, chopped mint, harissa, cumin and cinnamon. Stir to combine well.
Set aside 2 tablespoons crumbled feta. Gently stir remaining feta into couscous. Taste to see if more salt is needed.
Blot the inside of the whole tomatoes gently with a paper towel. Fill the centers with the couscous. Top with reserved feta.
Arrange tomatoes in a lightly oiled baking dish. Drizzle additional olive oil over tomatoes. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Roast in oven until cheese is golden, 20-25 minutes. Remove and allow tomatoes to cool to room temperature.
Before serving, drizzle with freshly squeezed lemon juice. Garnish with fresh mint leaves and reserved tomato tops.

Couscous Eggplant

Provençal Vegetable Tian with Goat Cheese and Basil Coulis

Summer Tian

Tiring of Ratatouille?  I am a big fan of the Provençal-inspired stew of summer vegetables, but by the end of August I find myself seeking cues for inspiration in a hungry quest for different ways to use the heaps of squash, zucchini, eggplant and tomatoes harvested from our summer gardens.  So, prompted by this month’s Grow Your Own event hosted by Andrea’s Recipes, armed with a shiny new lime-green enameled cast iron pan, and inspired by a scrumptious article on tians in my favorite French magazine, Côté Sud,  I decided to create a Provençal Vegetable Tian with homegrown heirloom tomatoes and basil.

Heirloom Tomatoes

Tian is the the French word for a casserole baked in an earthenware dish, layered with seasonal vegetables and cheese.  Originating in the south of France, and possibly influenced by the North African couscous pot, the ingredients are decoratively arranged and slow cooked for simple, rustic, flavorful results.  What better way to present a typically Provençal selection of vegetables than in a tian?  The sliced veggies are tossed in a coulis of puréed basil leaves, garlic and extra-virgin olive oil to give moisture and the unmistakable flavor of summer.  Crumbled soft goat cheese adds a creamy, tangy depth to this vegetarian dish.  Baked until the vegetables are tender but not too soft, this tian is delicious straight from the oven or even the next day.  Just like a good ratatouille – but different.

Provençal Vegetable Tian with Goat Cheese and Basil Coulis
Serves 4-6

2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
1 garlic clove
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 medium, firm eggplant/aubergine, stemmed, quartered lengthwise, cut in 1/2″ thick slices

3 large ripe vine or heirloom tomatoes, cut in 1/2″ thick slices
2 small yellow onions, peeled and thinly sliced
2 red or orange sweet peppers, halved, seeded, cut in 2″ square pieces
1 medium zucchini, cut in 1/4″ thick slices
1 medium yellow squash or 2-3 large patty pan squash, cut in 1/4″ thick slices
6 oz. (180 grams) fresh goat cheese, crumbled

Prepare Basil Coulis:
Combine basil and garlic in bowl of food processor. While the machine is running, pour in 1/3 cup (80 ml.) oil in steady stream until consistency resembles a vinaigrette; add more oil if necessary.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside.

Grill Eggplant:
Arrange eggplant slices in one layer on oven tray.  Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Grill in oven until eggplant turns golden brown and softens, about 8 minutes.  Remove from oven.

Assemble Tian:
Preheat oven to 325 F. (170 C.)
Lightly oil an earthenware baking/gratin dish.  In a large bowl, toss slices of grilled eggplant, tomatoes, onions, zucchini and yellow squash with 3/4 of the basil coulis.  Arrange slices overlapping on the diagonal in baking dish.  Crumble goat cheese over vegetables.  Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bake in oven 50 minutes.  Remove and allow to cool briefly.  Drizzle remaining basil coulis over tian.  Garnish with whole basil leaves.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

Grilled Eggplant and Heirloom Tomato Stacks with Basil and Tomato Coulis

Eggplant Sandwich TasteFood

Eggplants love the grill, and I love to grill eggplants – or aubergines as they are so elegantly referred to in other countries. Eggplants comes in many sizes and shapes, while the most common variety is the plump, pear-shaped and, well, aubergine colored vegetable found year round in our markets.

When it comes to the barbecue the versatile, yet subtle, eggplant is the workhorse of grilled vegetables. Its mellow, buttery flavor and firm texture lends well to the barbecue, as it hold its shape during grilling and serves as a perfect vehicle for spicy, smoky, flamboyant flavors. Eggplants may be simply prepared with olive oil, salt and pepper and served in stand-alone fashion – or tossed with a medley of Provençal-style vegetables as a grilled accompaniment to meat and fish.  Cut in planks, and use as a vessel for a dollop of creamy tsatsiki for an easy crowd-friendly appetizer – or stack grilled slices with tomato, basil and goat cheese for an impressive beginning to a dinner.

This recipe is easy to prepare, delicious and fresh to eat. The smoky eggplant combines beautifully with cool garlicky goat cheese, juicy sweet tomatoes and crisp fresh basil leaves.  Serve as an elegant appetizer or on a bed of arugula for a dramatic salad.

Grilled Eggplant and Heirloom Tomato Stacks with Basil and Tomato Coulis

Makes 8 stacks

1 to 2  narrow, firm eggplants, sliced horizontally 1/4-inch thick to yield 16 slices
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups soft goat cheese
1 garlic clove, minced
2 large heirloom tomatoes, sliced horizontally 1/4-inch thick to yield 8 slices
16 large basil leaves
1/4 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 cup tomato coulis (see below)

Prepare Eggplant:
Preheat oven broiler or prepare grill. Lightly brush eggplant slices on both sides with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Arrrange on baking tray and broil in oven, turning once, until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. (Or grill over direct medium heat until charred and tender, turning once, 6 to 8 minutes). Transfer to plate to cool.

Arrange Stacks:
Whisk goat cheese, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper in a small bowl.
Arrange 1/2 of the eggplant slices on a platter.  Spoon 1 to 2 teaspoons goat cheese over the eggplant, then top with 1 basil leaf. Place a tomato slice over the basil and spread 1 to 2 teaspoons goat cheese over the tomato. Place a second eggplant slice over the goat cheese. Top with one teaspoon goat cheese and basil leaf.  Lightly drizzle 2 to 3 teaspoons Tomato Coulis over and around the eggplant stack. Garnish with one teaspoon grated Pecorino Romano cheese.  Serve immediately.

Heirloom Tomatoes TasteFood

Tomato Coulis:
Makes about 1 cup

1 pound ripe plum tomatoes, peeled and seeded (see below), coarsely chopped
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine tomatoes, garlic and olive oil in bowl of food processor.  Process until smooth.  Add salt and pepper. Let stand at room temperature for one hour before serving.  (Coulis may be made one day in advance. Cover and refrigerate). Serve at room temperature.

Cooking Class – How to Peel and Seed a Tomato:

1.  Take a paring knife and cut out the stem: Make shallow incisions around the stem and scoop out the stem.
2.  With same knife, make a shallow X-incision in bottom of tomato.
3.  Bring a saucepan of water to a rolling boil.  Plunge tomato into water for 10 seconds.  Remove and submerge in a bowl of ice water.
4.  Remove the cooled tomato from the water.  Peel away skin.
5.  To seed the tomato, cut the tomato in half.  Use your fingers to scoop out seeds.