Seared Baby Eggplant with Mozzarella and Basil Oil
Basil oil is easy to make and will keep for 1 month in the fridge, so you might want to double the recipe to have some on hand for salads
and roasted vegetables.
- 1 cup tightly packed fresh basil leaves
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 3 baby eggplants (1 lb.), sliced into 30 ½-inch-thick rounds
- 2 Tbs. olive oil
- 1 leek, halved, white and light green parts cut into half-moons
- 4 Tbs. white wine vinegar, divided
- 1 6-oz. ball fresh mozzarella, sliced into 6 rounds
- 2 Tbs. capers
1. To make Basil Oil: Blanch basil 5 seconds in 4 cups boiling, salted water. Drain, and plunge into ice water. Pat basil dry, then purée in blender with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Strain oil with mesh strainer, and discard basil.
2. To make Eggplant: Generously salt eggplant slices, and set in colander placed over bowl. Let stand 45 minutes to release liquid.
3. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Add leek, season with salt, and sauté 5 to 7 minutes, or until softened. Transfer to bowl.
4. Coat nonstick skillet with cooking spray, and heat over medium heat. Add half of eggplant slices, and season with salt. Cook 5 minutes, or until browned and caramelized, using spatula to move slices often to prevent sticking. Flip eggplant with spatula, add 2 Tbs. vinegar, reduce heat to medium-low, and cover. Cook 5 to 7 minutes more, or until vinegar has evaporated and second side of eggplant is caramelized. Remove eggplant slices to covered bowl to keep warm. Repeat with remaining eggplant slices.
5. To serve: Place mozzarella slices on serving plates. Top each cheese slice with 5 slices eggplant, 1 Tbs. leek, 1 Tbs. Basil Oil, and sprinkling of capers. Season with salt and pepper.
July/August 2008 p.61