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Aubergine, better known as eggplant, is a favorite of mine, although you wouldn’t know it by searching for it on this blog. In more than a year, this is only the fourth time it has appeared. That is due to the fact that Dave doesn’t think he really likes eggplant and I know a lot of people who feel the same way. But each time he has it, he skeptically says, “that was pretty good.”  I have a theory as to why that is usually the reaction. Dave, and many people, have had eggplant prepared badly. Sadly, it is a common phenomenon, because eggplant can be a huge greasy bitter mess.

Eggplant is like a sponge, it will soak up as much oil as it gives it.  And the flesh can sometimes be naturally bitter. Like cucumbers, tomatoes, potatoes, and tobacco; eggplant is a member of the nightshade family and it has much more of tobacco’s bitterness than the other family members.  The remedy for the bitter sponginess is to salt the flesh first. Salting, also known as degorging, accomplishes two goals: it pulls out juices that carry bitter flavors, and it collapses the air pockets in the eggplant’s sponge-like flesh, thus preventing it from absorbing so much oil and becoming greasy. The salted eggplant may be placed in a colander for an hour (best done with cubes) or placed in a single layer out on paper towels (best with slices). After the degorging is complete, rinse off the salt and squeeze dry before continuing. Eggplant can be cooked with the peel on or off. Unfortunately, the gorgeous aubergine color does not remain once it is heated, if it did, I would never peel it.

** If you made the slow-roasted tomatoes from two days ago, add them into these stacks – delish!

Mediterranean Aubergine Stacks

1 large eggplant, peeled and cut into, at least eight, 1/2-inch slices
1 tablespoon olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
3/4 cup purchased marinara sauce
2 ounces soft goat cheese, such as Montrachet
1 cup coarsely grated mozzarella cheese (about 4 ounces)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and a grill or grill pan to high. Generously sprinkle eggplant with salt on both sides and place slices on a paper towel-lined plate in a single layer and let sit for an hour (you will see a lot of liquid beading on the surface).

Rinse the eggplant in cold water to remove the salt, firmly squeeze the slices to draw out the moisture, and then pat the eggplant dry with paper towels to dry completely.

Brush both sides of eggplant slices with olive oil and sprinkle with pepper and Italian seasoning. Grill on each side for 3 to 4 minutes.

Place grilled eggplant on a Silpat mat or foil-lined baking sheet. Dollop with half of the marinara. Crumble all the goat cheese over; sprinkle with 2/3 of the basil. Top with another slice of grilled eggplant. Mound mozzarella on top and spoon remaining sauce over.

Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes. Transfer stacks to a platter or serving plates and garnish with remaining basil.

Makes 4 stacks

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1 comment

1 Marissa { 10.05.10 at 8:01 AM }

Yum yum yum. Make more, they go fast!

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