Since I started the week out with a lightly fried dish, I figured I would continue with another one, although actually this dish can be fried or baked and it’s awesome either way. I went with fried this time because I was doing my version of a dish we recently had from a local Italian restaurant called Panzano (one I must recommend to anyone who lives or visits here, what a wonderful place).
We went recently for Happy Hour and one of the dishes on the menu included slices of fried eggplant and a tomato sauce with fresh Buffalo mozzarella, Parmesan curls, fresh basil leaves and surrounded with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. It was heavenly, basically a deconstructed version of Eggplant Parmesan, and the flavors just made me want more. So I decided to get more, only this time at home.
My version includes my Roasted Red Pepper Coulis that I shared awhile back, because I wanted to make it my version not copy their’s exactly, that way I still feel like I’m getting a treat when I go there (my husband is always complaining about how hard it is for us to eat out, cause I make the same quality of food at home all the time). I fried the eggplant this time but have full intentions of baking it the next time to cut the fat more. I really believe the dish won’t hurt for it and be just as yummy, so don’t be afraid to bake it instead of frying.
I also skipped the Parmesan and used fresh mozzarella and goat cheese instead. Can I just say, yummmmmmmmmmmmmmmm?! The flavors were wonderful and I wouldn’t do it any other way but like with any of the dishes I make, the choice of ingredients is yours. Unless I mention it’s not a good idea to switch it up, the recipes I give are just guidelines to point you in a direction.
I served the Eggplant Frites with Roasted Red Pepper Coulis (yes, it’s a fancy name but a dish like this one, deserves it) for dinner but it would also make a great appetizer so plan according to your plans. The dish was easy to make, you can make the coulis ahead and then just warm up when you’re ready to use it and the frying doesn’t take long in a hot skillet. I did salt the eggplants for about an hour before use to draw out the water which makes the cooking whether frying or baking easier.
This is a beautiful dish and I’m sure that you’ll enjoy it even if you’re a sworn eggplant hater. The flavors of the roasted red pepper and the Panko coated eggplant with the cheeses and basil was so wonderful that my taste buds were begging for more. My husband did his usual satisfied moaning of how good it was and was thrilled that he had a few leftovers for work (these only come back if you can heat them in a toaster oven or under the broiler, not the microwave, it wilts them).
Eggplant Frites with Roasted Red Pepper Coulis
1 batch of Roasted Red Pepper Coulis, recipe found here.
1 medium large to large size eggplant, sliced about 1/4″ thick
Kosher salt for salting eggplant
3 cups of Panko breadcrumbs (can use regular but Panko offer more crunch for texture)
4 tsp. Cantanzaro Herbs (from Savory Spice Shop or use Italian seasoning with lemon zest added)
Olive oil for frying, enough to cover pan with 1/4″ of oil and for 3 to 4 batches
4 oz goat cheese
5 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
Balsamic vinegar and olive oil for drizzling
Salt eggplant slices for at least 30 minutes before use. Rinse the salt off before using and set eggplant aside to dry before using.
Mix Panko and Cantanzaro herb mix together. Add olive to large skillet and heat to almost smoking over medium high heat.
Coat the eggplant slices in the Panko mix and place in the skillet, frying until golden brown on both sides. Remove to a platter lined with paper towels or a paper bag (I found the paper bag works better at not holding the oil to the food, which can get soggy if it sits on paper towels too long). Continue frying until all slices are finished.
If you prefer the baking method to frying, bake heat oven to 375°, place coated eggplant on a baking sheet and bake until golden brown, turning once.
If you made the Roasted Red Pepper Coulis ahead, then make sure you are warming it while doing the frying.
Turn the oven on broil and get out a large baking sheet. Place the eggplant slices on the sheet and top with first the goat cheese then the mozzarella. Place in the oven under the broiler until the cheese is melting and brown.
Prepare to serve by placing about a 1/4 cup of the Coulis on the plate, followed by two eggplant slices. Drizzle the Balsamic vinegar and olive oil around the edges of the plate for serving.
Makes about 7 to 8 appetizer servings or 4 main dish servings.
More Yummy Eggplant Recipes: