Stack of Heaven: Eggplant, Tomato & Feta Cheese Napolean

I live for the day when heirloom tomatoes appear at the farmers market. I’m a bit of a tomato fiend — I’m sorry, but a sandwich is just not a sandwich without tomato — but nothing beats a fresh, local, funky-looking heirloom tomato. I love them so much that I spent $12 on them at the farmers market. And it will be worth every penny, believe me!

My go-to with an heirloom is a simple caprese salad with fresh mozzarella, but this week I found a delicious-looking recipe for Eggplant, Tomato, and Feta Cheese Napoleans (courtesy of Emeril). Um, yes please!

Eggplant is one of my favorite vegetables, and I found some adorable little purple and white specimens at Whole Foods that I couldn’t pass up. Roasted with balsamic vinegar and stacked with goat cheese, tomatoes and basil oil…oh wow. Not only does it look impressive, I think I could eat this for every meal this week. I opted for goat cheese instead of feta — good choice, if I don’t say so myself.

Seriously — how amazing does that look? I outdid myself on this one.

Eggplant, Tomato and Feta Cheese Napolean

PESTO OIL:

  • 2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves, washed and patted dry
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

NAPOLEONS:

  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese or goat cheese (about 6 ounces)
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
  • 2 large tomatoes, cored

To make the pesto oil, pulse the basil and garlic in a food processor or blender until finely chopped. With the machine running, add the olive oil in a steady stream and process until well blended. Season with the salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl and cover tightly.

To make the napoleons, preheat the oven to 450°F.

Cut the eggplant crosswise into 12 slices about 1/4 inch thick. Mix 1/4 cup of the olive oil and the balsamic vinegar in a large bowl. Add the eggplant slices and toss to coat. Season with the salt and pepper.

Place the eggplant on a baking sheet in one layer and bake until soft, turning once, about 15 minutes. Let cool.

In a small bowl, combine the cheese, basil, and the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil.

Slice each tomato crosswise into 4 slices about 1/3 inch thick. Place 1 eggplant slice on a salad plate. Top with about 1 tablespoon of the cheese mixture, then a tomato slice. Drizzle 1 teaspoon of pesto oil over the tomato, then top with another tablespoon of cheese. Repeat with an other eggplant slice, 1 tablespoon cheese, a tomato slice, and 1 teaspoon pesto oil. Finish with a final eggplant slice, another tablespoon of cheese, and a drizzle of pesto oil. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.

Serve at room temperature, with pesto oil drizzled around each napoleon.

Yield: 4 servings

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Lentil Deliciousness

I’m on a bit of a lentil kick lately. They’re easy, tasty and healthy. What’s not to like?

I alluded to last night’s dinner in my last post with the photo of sliced grapes, chopped cilantro and lemon zest. Yum. Yum. Yum. It was a winner.

From Tyler Florence (and one of my favorite cookbooks, Tyler’s Ultimate): Grilled Skirt Steak with Lentils, Cilantro & Grapes.

Super bright flavors with the combination of lemon, cilantro and chile, and the grapes sound weird but they were the perfect contrast to the spicy chile and salty feta. Since I don’t have a grill, I cooked the steak under the broiler and it worked beautifully. I also sliced the chile instead of mincing it as I liked the look of the slices better, but Tyler was right about mincing it — my mouth was on fire with the big bites of chile (and I like a lot of spice, so that’s saying something). Follow the directions on that one, folks. The recipe doesn’t call for chopping the cilantro, but I would.

Plated up, the colors look beautiful, but it tastes even better. Try it. You’ll thank me.

Grilled Skirt Steak with Lentils, Cilantro & Grapes

Ingredients

1 head garlic, sliced horizontally
salt
extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 lb steak
black pepper

3 thyme sprigs
1 c lentils
1 garlic clove, smashed (NOT minced or chopped)
1 green chile, minced
zest & juice of 1 lemon

1 bunch cilantro
1 lb green grapes
6 oz feta
black pepper

Directions

1. Heat your oven to 400. Cut a 12″ foil piece and place the garlic on one half and sprinkle with salt, a little olive oil, 2 ts water and 2 sprigs of thyme. Fold to cover and seal. Roast for 30 minutes.
2. Heat a grill to  medium high heat. Wipe the grill quickly with olive oil to create a non-stick surface. Rub the steak with some olive oil and season generously with kosher salt and black pepper.
3. Pour the lentils into a sauce pan and add enough cold water to cover them by 2 inches. Add the smashed garlic, remaining thyme and 1 ts salt. Bring to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes or until tender. Discard garlic and thyme.
4. When the grill is hot, toss on the steak and cook to medium-rare, 5-7 minutes. Rest for 5 minutes and then cut into thin slices.
5. Place the lentils in a bowl and add the chile, lemon zest & juice, cilantro, grapes, feta and 1/3 c olive oil.  Toss and add salt to taste.
6. On four plates, make a bed of lentils and place the steak slices on top. Drizzle the steak with a little olive oil and black pepper. Serve the roasted garlic on the side.