Meatless Monday: Eggplant Stacks

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Wasting away in the crisper for about  a week has been an eggplant. It was a throw-away purchase from my last CNY Regional Market trip. One of the farms had a table of these for a buck apiece, so it was an easy pickup. But, a long week led to it dormancy in the bowels of my refrigerator.

Determined to make something from it, I rooted around my fridge today looking for some assistance. There was marinara and fresh mozzarella, which made things easy enough. A tub of Garlicky Goodness (more on that in a sec) joined the fray, as did the last two tomatoes on the counter.

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I didn’t want to fry, but I also didn’t want to make a casserole. I was winging it here, so I decided to layer everything into a stack. But, I knew that the layered eggplant would take longer to cook, so I ran the slices through the oven to give them a headstart.

The end result? Well…

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WHAT WORKED: Garlicky Goodness. This is a puree of garlic scapes made by the fine people at Empire Buffalo. I grabbed some of this at the Caz Farmers Market. It made a nice substitute from the everyday basil pesto. Also, cooking the eggplant slices for 15 to 20 minutes softens them perfectly.

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WHAT DIDN’T: Forgetting that the baking pan I was using was hot. Time and time again, I find myself burning my hand by grabbing a pan fresh from the oven. I should be supervised more often.

WHAT DID THE WIFE SAY: Nothing. We had a very enjoyable evening of conversation that didn’t involve yelling at The Kid. Therefore, we savored. Plus, I don’t think she likes eggplant.

WILL IT MAKE ANOTHER APPEARANCE: Maybe. It’s certainly quicker and less mess than the average eggplant parm.

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Eggplant Stacks
By Jared Paventi

  • One purple eggplant, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • One large beefsteak tomato, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 16 oz. fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1/4 cup pureed garlic scapes or basil pesto (optional)
  • 2 cups good quality marinara sauce
  • olive oil
  • kosher salt

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

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Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat with nonstick spray (or use Reynolds non-stick foil as I did). Lay the eggplant slices flat on the baking sheet and brush each slice with olive oil. Salt each slice lightly, flip them, and apply another brushing of oil.

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Roast eggplant slides for 15 to 20 minutes.

2014-08-18 at 17-02-11Remove from the oven, increase oven temperature to 450 degrees, and assemble your stacks. Place a tomato slice atop a slice of eggplant. Add a slice of cheese and top with marinara sauce. Spoon a small portion of pesto or pureed garlic scapes over the stack and add another eggplant slice. Top with another slice of mozzarella and a ladleful of marinara. Repeat until all of your eggplant has been used.

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Return the stacks to the oven and cook for up to 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling. Remove and serve hot.

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