Eggplant Caprese Parcels
with Roasted Garlic Balsamic Sauce
It’s one of my favorite times of the year: eggplant season. My mother grows eggplant every year and it never fails she always has way more than she can ever use. I feel it is my duty as her daughter to help relieve her of the burden of some of those lovely purple fruit.
Oh it doesn’t help that purple is my favorite color, so I could just drown myself in the color of these magnificent vegetables.
Mom grows white eggplant, the big dark purple ones, the small skinny dark purple Japanese eggplant, and those lovely little lavender-colored fingerling eggplant. The white ones I have discovered are perfect for stuffing. They are just the right size to make 2 lovely individual meals. The smaller ones are fantastic tossed in pasta sauce, stir-fries, or made into eggplant parmesan “chips” … last year I made little breaded baked eggplant parmesan that were luscious to munch on either plain or with a dip or made into the classic eggplant parmesan.
Eggplant are full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients, high in fiber, and low in calories. They are generally described as having a pleasingly bitter taste, but it really depends on how you cook them. Many recipes are designed to remove the bitterness. I think they are sort of buttery tasting.
This year I wanted to try something new with these precious purple eggplant. I found this beautiful recipe in my mediterranean cookbook. My eggplant are not as big as the recipe calls for, so I am making a mini-version.
Okay, really, I’m playing with my food. This made a very beautiful, tasty dish, but I need to warn you: they are a little messy to eat! Perhaps I shouldn’t have been eating them as finger food?
Eggplant Caprese Parcels
Ingredients for the Parcels:
- Four small, long eggplant
- Mozzarella cheese, sliced
- Asiago cheese, thinly sliced
- Fresh tomato slices
- Large basil leaves
- Long fresh chives if you have them, for tying the parcels. (If you are using larger eggplant, you probably won’t need these, but they are cute!)
- Seasoned salt and fresh ground black pepper
- Olive oil or cooking spray
- Remove the stems from the eggplant and cut each eggplant into long, thin slices. My eggplant were small, so I got 4 long, skinny slices per eggplant. Do NOT use the first piece covered with skin like I did! I thought since my eggplant were little that the skin would be tender, but it wasn’t tender enough! It’s way too difficult to eat if the slice has skin all the way across. If you want to use that piece, peel it first.
- Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the eggplant slices for about 2 minutes, until just softened. Drain the sliced eggplant and dry on towels.
- Take 2 eggplant slices and place them across each other at a 90 degree angle, so they make a cross shape. Place a slice of tomato in the center, season it with seasoned salt and fresh ground pepper, then add a basil leaf, a slice of each cheese, another basil leaf, a slice of tomato and more seasoning.
- Fold the ends of the eggplant slices around the filling to make a neat parcel. Repeat with the rest of the ingredients. Chill the parcels for about 20 minutes. While they are chilling, make the dressing.
- It’s hot here today, so I’m using the “broil” feature of my toaster oven. Brush the parcels with olive oil or spray them with cooking spray, then cook for about 5 minutes on each side, until golden.
- Serve hot, spreading a bit of the garlic balsamic paste on the parcel and sprinkling with pine nuts and basil leaves.
Adapted from the cookbook: Mediterranean, a taste of the sun in over 150 recipes, by Jacqueline Clark and Joanna Farrow
Roasted Garlic Balsamic Sauce
Roasting garlic like this mellows out the bite of the garlic and makes a lovely garlicky paste that is good for spreading on bread or making lovely dips. This part is my recipe … the book used a sundried tomato balsamic vinaigrette sauce.
- 1 whole head of garlic, roasted
- 2 T. balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 of a lime
Take the head of garlic and squeeze each clove out of the peel. You should be able to separate the cloves and just squeeze each mushy garlic clove out of the peel between your fingers.
In a handy chopper or food processor, whir together the garlic, the balsamic vinegar, and the lime juice until it forms a nice soft but sort of thick sauce. If you want a thinner sauce, add more vinegar or lime juice.