Deconstructed Eggplant Stacks
I‘ve done it again. I’ve made a bite size version of an otherwise perfect larger dish. My first guilty verdict from this situation was my miniature crab cakes. And now my second charge is with these here bites.
Not surprisingly, they are both appetizers and were both on the menu at recent gatherings at our house. I’ve noticed how difficult it is to mingle and converse when you’re trying to sit, cut up and enjoy the food. It just doesn’t work.
When people can just grab a bite and eat while moving around, it just makes for better party vibes. No one wants to be that guy who sits for 15 minutes, alone, looking for a knife and fork, when trying to eat his appetizer while it is still hot. #lame
That being said, I took one of my favorite restuarant options and turned it into the perfect party offering. Eggplant stacks. Usually large and tall, oozy and saucy, this dish has I-need-a-napkin all over it. Not to mention it needs to be cut and portioned and a definite no-no for stand up eating. Basically, it’s a dish for a sit down dinner and rightfully needs to be respected as so. In other words, don’t serve this with a house of friends or family, it will downgrade your hostess credentials.
Unless of course, you serve it this way! Just genius, if I may. Everyone will love it. The fried eggplant alone with some fresh mozzarella would be a win but add in some basil and fresh tomato.......you’re going to be explaining this recipe all night. The platter will be empty fairly quickly so I’d recommend you downing a few before you bring it out!
I love the way it looks before garnishing with the balsamic and Parmigianno, almost like little Italian soldiers. But when it comes to rounding out the dish, the garnishes really dress it up both in favor and appearance.
Well I think I’ve rambled on long enough with this one, thanks for bearing with me. I hope you make this soon and party well into the night! Enjoy...
Deconstructed Eggplant Stacks
Serves: 4-6 (appetizer course)
1 large eggplant, peeled, sliced into 1 inch thick rounds, then diced into 1inch cubes
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, rinsed and halved
1/2 pint or about 1 C miniature fresh mozzarella balls- or bite size cut up pieces from a larger fresh mozzarella ball
1/2 C fresh basil, rinsed, dried and torn into 1/3 of a leaf pieces
Balsamic glaze and fresh grated Parmigianno cheese, for garnish
Canola oil, for frying
1 1/2 C Italian breadcrumbs
2 eggs, beaten
Lay all your eggplant cubes out on a wire rack and sprinkle with a dusting of kosher salt. Let sit for 15 minutes. Using a paper towel, absorb all the liquid from the eggplant.
Set up two shallow bowls. One with the beaten eggs, one with the breadcrumbs.
Fill a large frying pan 1/4- 1/2 way with canola oil and heat over medium-high heat. Heat until ready- back of wooden spoon inserted starts to bubble or if you sprinkle a pinch of breadcrumbs in- they begin to bubble and fry.
Once oil is ready, begin to fry your eggplant. Dip pieces in egg wash first, dripping off excess, then roll in breadcrumbs. Fry in batches for about 2-3 minutes per side. Once entire cube is golden brown, use a slotted spoon to place on wire rack to cool. Sprinkle with kosher salt.
Repeat with remaining eggplant batches.
Try not to eat all the fried cubes!
Assemble your bites- Using a toothpick, start with one eggplant cube, then a tomato half, then a mini mozzarella ball and finally a strip or small piece of basil folded over.
Repeat with remaining ingredients. If your bites aren’t standing tall, you can lay them flat as well, just push the ingredients more into the middle of the toothpick.
Place on a serving platter. When ready to serve, drizzle with balsamic glaze and a hefty sprinkle of the grated Parmigianno.