Eggplant Napoleons with Pesto
Served with a salad and a simple side dish of pasta with marinara sauce, these tidy little stacks of roasted eggplant, tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil pesto make a really satisfying meatless meal.
- 1 medium globe eggplant (1 to 1-1/4 lbs)
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 or 2 ripe tomatoes
- 4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese
- Balsamic reduction (optional - see below)
For the pesto:
- 1 cup basil leaves, loosely packed
- 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, loosely packed (stems removed)
- 1 small clove garlic, roughly chopped
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons pine (pignoli) nuts
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 425°F and coat a shallow baking pan with nonstick spray. Cut the eggplant into 3/8-inch rounds and arrange on the prepared pan. Brush both sides of each round with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Roast the eggplant until tender, 12 to 14 minutes, remove from the oven and reduce the temperature to 350°F.
- While the eggplant roasts, slice both the tomatoes and the mozzarella into 1/4-inch slices.
Tip: Using a serrated knife to slice the fresh mozzarella makes it much easier to get rounds of uniform thickness.
- Next, prepare the pesto. Add the basil, parsley, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, pine nuts, salt and a few grinds of black pepper to the work bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the mixture is the consistency of a thick paste.
- Spread about 3/4 teaspoon of pesto over each slice of eggplant and top with a slice of mozzarella. Build 4 Napoleons by layering slices of tomato in between the eggplant and cheese layers, finishing each with a slice of eggplant and cheese on the top.
- Bake the Napoleons until the tomatoes are softened and the cheese is melted and bubbly, 6 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter and drizzle with balsamic reduction.
For best results, choose an eggplant that's about 3-1/2 to 4-inches in diameter at the base and doesn't taper or curve too much. Pick tomatoes of about the same diameter too.
How To Make A Balsamic Reduction:
Place 1 cup of balsamic vinegar in small, non-reactive saucepan and bring to a slow simmer over medium heat. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until it reaches a syrupy consistency and easily coats the spoon, 12 to 20 minutes.
You can continue to reduce beyond this point, but bear in mind that the vinegar will thicken even more as it cools. Remove from the heat, allow to cool completely and transfer to a small jar. Cover and keep refrigerated until ready to use.
Makes about 1/2 cup