There is one vegetable in my family that everyone is literally in love with and believe it or not…that vegetable is Eggplant! I was raised in an Italian household…always surrounded by big pots of sauce simmering for hours…my Mom and Aunts always chopping…frying…sauteing…well you get the picture! Eggplant Parm was always a very important part of any Holiday gathering or special event (basically…every Sunday Dinner : ). So my love for eggplant started really early. I will be featuring my Eggplant Parm recipe really soon…but today I am showing you a slightly lighter side of this incredibly versatile vegetable…Eggplant Napoleons! They are quick. and easy plus you can prepare the eggplant a day in advance! Plate one of these pretties up with a hearty side salad and dinner is served!
Let’s get a closer look at the structure…you have 3 layers…first a fried eggplant round (if you want to go lighter…you can substitute the fried round for a grilled round)…the a beautiful slice of a fresh tomato…sprinkled with basil…a bit of thinly sliced scallion greens…salt…freshly ground pepper…a hint of garlic salt or powder or if you happen to have some roasted garlic on hand…PERFECT…a touch of hot pepper flakes and a sprinkle of your favorite grated cheese…then the seasoned tomato is topped with a fresh slice of mozzarella cheese or your favorite mozzarella cheese grated. If you have a bit of fontina…that is always a great addition. Then it is time to repeat the steps ending with a final topping of tomato…herbs and cheese!
One nice size eggplant makes 4 Eggplant Napoleons or Eggplant Stacks with a few little smaller pieces for snacking : ) A very budget friendly dinner for 4 and may I say it looks spectacular along with a side salad and maybe a glass of red wine and grape juice for the kids! My Aunt Neutchie (come on …how many people have an Aunt Neutchie…Italian or what : ) would always serve us kids grape juice in crystal goblets and we thought that we were so very special! With every bite of eggplant my heart is warmed by flavor and many memories.
Now let me give you a very simple recipe…remember if you choose to grill your eggplant…simply cut the slice about 3/4 – 1 inch…brush with olive oil and a touch of balsamic and seasonings…YUM! We are going to do this one old school and fry up the eggplant!
1 medium eggplant peeled…(I personally don’t like the skin…if you do…feel free to leave it on : ) Sliced approximately 3/4 “- 1 ”
2 nice size fresh tomatoes…if you can’t get good ripe tomatoes…substitute by using canned plum tomatoes drained and coarsely chopped
8-12 ounce of Mozzarella cheese…sliced or grated
2 ounces of Fontina cheese grated (optional)1/2 cup of your favorite grated cheese (I use Pecorino Romano)
5 scallion greens thinly sliced (save a little bit for garnish)
Seasonings to taste: salt, pepper, garlic salt or powder or as I mentioned above…if you happen to have some roasted garlic…spread a bit on each layer…basil (fresh or dried), hot pepper flakes (optional).
3/4 cups of Italian Panko Crumb (or plain with your own Italian Seasoning)
1/2 cup of Regular Italian bread crumbs
1/2 cup of freshly grated cheese (I use Pecorino Romano…but any delicious grated cheese is perfect)
1 cup of seasoned flour (1/4 tsp. salt, 1 tsp of paprika, 1/2 tsp of garlic powder)
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup of light buttermilk or regular (yes…buttermilk…it works amazingly fabulous with eggplant…I think my Grandma would approve if she tasted it : )
1/4- 1/2 cup of milk (if it needs to be thinner…just add the additional milk)
Vegetable or Canola Oil for frying
Olive Oil for drizzling.
Prepare your dredging station
1. First combine the two bread crumbs, 1/2 tsp of salt and the grated cheese and mix well in a bowl
2. Combine your flour and seasoning together in another bowl
3. Now crack your eggs…beat them well…then add the buttermilk and combine till smooth.
4. Cut your eggplant slices
5. Now it is time to coat…Dip the cheese into the seasoned flour…then the egg and buttermilk mixture and then the bread crumbs
6. Place each slice on a cookie sheet and continue till all of the slices are coated.
7. Heat up the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat or if you have a deep fryer…that’s great too!
8. Work these in batches …don’t over crowd the pan…they take approximately 1/2 minutes per side or until golden brown…maybe a few seconds longer.
9. Drain on paper towels.
10. Now it is time to assemble…eggplant…tomato…seasoning…cheeses…repeat!
11. Bake in a 350 over for approximately 20-25 minutes
12. Plate them up with a bit of scallion and basil garnish and serve with a yummy salad! Oh yes…a bit of crusty Italian bread is ALWAYS a good idea!
Bon Appetit and (((((HUGS))))) from my Italian kitchen to Yours!