Sunday, October 05, 2008

Eggplant and Zucchini Stacks

These veggie towers come by way of the late, great Milwaukee food blog Haverchuk. Former blogger mzn’s ode to deconstructed eggplant parm inspires me every September. A couple of weeks ago, I layered eggplant and zucchini rounds with tomato sauce*, pesto and cheese, but you could keep this as simple as just the eggplant and sauce.

The general idea is this: Peel and slice 1 big eggplant and 1 big zucchini into rounds. Brush with some olive oil, salt lightly, and grill or roast until soft (about 30 minutes at 425 on a foil-lined cookie sheet in the oven; 10 to 15 minutes on the grill). Let cool.

Layer the largest eggplant rounds in a foil-lined casserole pan. I managed to fit about seven slices into my pan. Spread a couple of tablespoons of tomato sauce* and pesto over each slice of eggplant. Sprinkle with some shredded mozzarella or provolone cheese. Place another slice of eggplant or zucchini on top of each of the sauced eggplant rounds. Top with more sauce, pesto and cheese.

Repeat the next layer with the smaller eggplant and zucchini rounds. Keep layering the vegetables until you’re through. Top the final layer with sauce and sprinkle with grated Parmesan. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes; then broil for 5. Let cool. This is best served lukewarm.

*This is how I’ve been making tomato sauce lately: Cut up a bunch of tomatoes. You need good, farmer’s market tomatoes for this, preferably ultra-ripe ones. Toss ‘em in a foil-lined pan with a couple of peeled garlic cloves, a splash of olive oil and red wine vinegar, 2 tsps. each of sugar and kosher salt and ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes. Roast at 400 until the tomatoes are pruney and caramelized, about an hour. Let cool. Run through a food processor for a couple of seconds. I like a chunky sauce; so I hit the “pulse” button on my KitchenAid for about 15 seconds. Ta-da!


irina said...

Ooh, this looks good. My dad makes a different take on this concept: just eggplant slices, fried, and then they're piled up into towers with freshly grated feta cheese (we use the fatty kind) between each layer, and then lots on top. And serve.

The cheese isn't melted in this, but the pleasure comes from the mix of hot eggplant and cold feta. Very yummy.

Yulinka said...

Hi Irina--I'm afraid of frying eggplant--it's messy and lots of oil is involved. That's why I usually roast or grill. Maybe there's a good technique I don't know.

adele said...

The trick to frying eggplant is a big, big pot or pan, and a long pair of tongs. Splattering oil remains contained, and the tongs reduce your likelihood of getting burned.

irina said...

The roasting sounds like a good idea -- I'm always bothered by how much oil those eggplants soak up! Do they taste as good though?

Anonymous said...

Yulinka, hello,

For red pepper flakes, you might like to try Aleppo Pepper from Penzey's Spices. Great taste! Much, much more earthy, rich pepper taste than regular red pepper flakes with just the right amount of heat. It retains a lot more of the pepper's moistness, so when I buy it by the bag, I keep some in a capped bottle for the table and the rest in the freezer so it stays fresh.


Yulinka said...

Irina--I'm sure properly fried eggplant is more delicious, but I'm pretty happy with roasted eggplant. It's soft and creamy enough for me.

Adele & Kevan--Thanks for the tips!

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