|Eggplant stacks as a side dish|
We started growing eggplant a few years back, mostly because I thought I wasn't a fan and wanted to grow it myself to see if my feelings about the veggie might change. They did, but not overnight. If there was any lingering doubt about my taste for eggplant, it was erased the minute this creation hit my mouth.
The title makes this recipe sound way more gourmet and complicated than it is, although the rich flavors and fancy presentation--mine is kind of slapped together, but you could make it prettier if it mattered--do make it restaurant worthy. Best of all, it's a quick recipe that's easy to assemble, made with all the stuff you already have coming out of your ears in the summer garden, and uses the grill rather than the oven on hot summer afternoons. We first served it to friends a week ago and have made it twice since. That's how tasty it is. Hey, even the pre-teen likes it, which is a big bonus!
The recipe comes from Cooking Light magazine (2007), but it's so easy to make I don't even need the specific directions anymore. Start by gathering up enough eggplant, red bell peppers, and zucchini/yellow squash to serve your crowd, picking less if you're making a side dish and more if the dish will serves as a vegetarian entree.
|Sliced veggies ready for grilling|
Slice the veggies, opening up the peppers so they lay flat for stacking. I like to draw moisture out of my eggplant and zucchini by salting it and letting it sit for 10-30 minutes. Before grilling, pat with a cloth or paper towel to remove the water that has come up to the surface, baste with some olive oil, and season with pepper and salt (unless you already salted the veggies.) Throw these on the grill for about 8-10 minutes, turning once while cooking.
|Eggplant stack components on the grill|
While those are cooking, put 1/4 cup of any red wine, 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar, and a tablespoon of brown sugar in a small saucepan on the stove. Bring to a boil on medium high and let the mixture reduce by about half, so that you end up with about 1/4 cup of sauce when you're done. It takes about the same amount of time as the veggies on the grill, and you'll want to monitor the heat as it cooks so you don't burn it.
|Ingredients for herbed goat cheese|
Finally, grab a sprig each of basil and oregano from the garden (or experiment with other herbs you have on hand), rinse and chop them, and then use a fork to mix them into a pile of goat cheese. I LOVE cheese, so I use about a heaping tablespoon of goat cheese for each serving--use less (or even more!) if you like. This is a great job for kids while you are making the reduction, or take a few minutes to do this part before you start the grill and stove.
To assemble, start your stack with a slice of eggplant and add the rest of the ingredients, alternating zuke, cheese, pepper, and balsamic reduction, ending with another eggplant slice, and topping it off with a drizzle of the sauce over the top. If you're planning to eat a steak alongside this dish, double the amount of balsamic reduction you make and drizzle that on your steak, too. Pour a glass of the red wine you used in the recipe, and enjoy!