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

Advertisements

Farmers Market Love: Squash Blossoms

I did my hippie thing this Sunday and rode my beach cruiser to the farmers market and crammed my hippie bike basket full of yummy finds. This week: heirloom tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, raspberries, pluots, green beans, grapefruit and (cue the angels singing) squash blossoms.

How excited was I to find squash blossoms? Well…very. I’ve been dying to try this recipe from “Lunch in Paris” by Elizabeth Bard (a great beach read that tells a love story through food and ends each chapter with recipes). Her recipe calls for zucchini blossoms, but seeing how hard it was for me to find ANY edible blossoms, I subbed in my squash blossoms and it worked quite well.

The recipe: Zucchini Flowers Stuffed with Goat Cheese and Mint.

Warning: stuffing the delicate flowers definitely takes some patience so you don’t rip the flower open and ruin the great little pocket it has created for you. Careful! I’m not very patient, but I managed to not make too much of a mess of the process.

After roasting in the oven, the end result, sprinkled with sea salt, was delish. I confess: I ate almost all of them.

Aren’t they pretty? The recipe:

1 egg

3 ounces goat cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

2 packed teaspoons chopped fresh mint

12 zucchini (or squash) flowers

Extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly beat the egg, crumble in the goat cheese, and mash them together with a fork. Add salt, pepper and mint.

Stuff the flowers (no need to take out the stamen) with a small amount of the cheese mixture. Twist to close.

Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Pour a small amount of olive oil onto the sheet and spread it around with your fingers. Roll the stuffed flowers through the oil until lightly coated.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until lightly browned and fragrant.