Even if you have had eggplant before and you think you don’t like it, this is one worth trying. I used to avoid eggplant like the plague, but we’ve slowly been trying new recipes and learning how to use the large purple fruit in a variety of ways. In addition, like many dishes, the key to this one is the quality of the ingredients. This dish goes great with a bread of your choice. As a last resort, if the parcels fall apart, you can make a delicious sandwich with the end result.
A loaf of bread of your choosing (multigrain mountain bread was our choice)
2 large eggplants (the longest ones you can find)
8 oz of mozzarella cheese (the kind that is packaged in a liquid is the best kind, we used a Polly-O brand. Just don’t use the standard store brand block, its harder and not as flavorful).
2 plum tomatoes (or tomatoes of any kind – whichever ones look the best at the store – you want the ones that are a deep red, not a pinkish-white)
1 package of fresh basil leaves (about 8 or so)
salt and ground black pepper
2 tablespoons of olive oil
For the dressing:
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1.5 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon of tomato paste (or red pasta sauce)
1.5 tablespoons of lemon juice
For the garnish:
2 tablespoons of toasted pine nuts
Remaining basil leaves (torn up into pieces)
1. Cut the tops off the eggplant and then proceed to cut the eggplant lengthwise into long thin slices (discard the ends). The aim is to have 8 slices from each eggplant. Its easier to cut straight slices if you’re using a long knife.
2. Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil and cook the eggplant slices for about 2-4 minutes until just softened. Drain, dry and let cool.
3. Cut the mozzarella cheese into eight slices and cut the tomatoes into 8 slices.
4. To make the dressing, mix together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, tomato paste, and lemon juice.
5. For the parcels, form an “X” with 2 slices of eggplant. Start by placing a tomato at the center, followed by a piece of mozzarella, then a basil leaf on top. Fold the ends of the eggplant over on top of the stack. Use toothpicks if necessary to keep the parcels together.
6. Preheat the grill (or other non-stick pan). Brush the parcels with olive oil or spray the pan with non-stick spray. Cook the parcels for 5 minutes on each side. Starting on the folded side works best.
7. Serve hot with the dressing poured over the top and sprinkled with pine nuts and basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!