Friday, April 16, 2010

Cheat's Grilled Eggplant Parmigiana Ciabattas

Cheat's Grilled Eggplant Parmigiana Ciabattas

Try saying that five times fast: 

Cheat's Grilled Eggplant Parmigiana Ciabattas
Cheat's Grilled Eggplant Parmigiana Ciabattas
Cheat's Grilled Eggplant Parmigiana Ciabattas

Okay, you get the idea. Quite a mouthful eh? In more ways than one too. These ciabattas are simply fabulous and the perfect weekend food. Besides being tremendously easy to make, they pack a powerful flavour punch that, if you're anything like me, will leave you very, very satisfied. The best way I can describe it, is that it feels like taking a bite of Italy with all that basil, tomato and mozzarella action. Hey, it's even in the Italian flag's colours. Bellissimo!

Verlaque's** fruit infused olive oil really shines in this dish, rendering the aubergine both beautifully soft and with a wonderful mix of sweetness and tartness. It definitely have my vote for favourite new South African product. Even if you use regular olive oil though, the smoky aubergine, loud & assertive basil, garlicky sundried tomato pesto and strings of gooey white mozzarella will ensure that the memory of these ciabattas stay with you for some time.

Cheat's Grilled Eggplant Parmigiana Ciabattas
Adapted from Epicurious
Serves 4

The cheat's version uses bought sundried tomato pesto instead of requiring you to make a tomato sauce from scratch. If you buy a good quality pesto I think it tastes even better this way. It goes without saying that an extra-garlicky pesto is almost a requirement...

If you must you can sub the Verlaque Splash with a good quality extra-virgin olive oil, but do try and get hold of it, the flavour is quite extraordinary.

1 large aubergine, cut into thickish round slices 
1/2 tsp  (2.5 ml) salt
1/4 cup (60 ml) sundried tomato pesto
4 individual sized ciabattas (or buy 2 and cut in half or 3rds)
12 fresh basil leaves
100g sliced mozzarella
freshly ground black pepper

1. Place aubergine slices in an oventray, sprinkling with the olive oil and salt. The aubergine should be generously coated on both sides with the oil. Place in the oven at 180C and bake for approx 15 minutes until soft.
2. At this point you can let your aubergines rest in the sauce for a while to intensify the flavours (I left mine overnight and they were amazing!) or you can proceed directly to the next step.
3. Heat a griddle pan over medium-high heat on a stovetop. Place the aubergine slices onto the griddle (if you've left them overnight they will be very soft, so handle with care). Grill for a minute or two each side to firm up and impart delicious smoky flavour (and attractive griddle marks).
4. Meanwhile, halve your ciabatta and toast in the oven (you can also use the griddle pan for this). Also, switch your oven back on (180C).
5. Spread one half of the ciabatta with the sundried tomato pesto, then top with basil leaves. You'll want to cover the whole surface with basil leaves. Lay some aubergine slices on top and follow that with mozzarella slices. Cover with the other half of the ciabatta. Repeat with the other three ciabattas. 
6.  Place in the oven for a few minutes to melt the cheese and serve warm.

Nutritional info (per serving): Calories 549.4 , Total fat 15.4 g, Saturated fat 4.1 g, Polyunsaturated fat 1.0 g, Monounsaturated fat 8.6 g, Cholesterol 14.5 mg, Sodium 564.7 mg, Potassium 28.0 mg, Total carbohydrate 11.0 g, Dietary fiber 0.3 g, Sugars 1.3 g, Protein 8.8 g

Good source of: Calcium 16.4 %, Phosphorus 11.7 %

** Full disclaimer: Verlaque's product was included in the goodie bags at the 2010 SA Food Blogger's conference, so I received it for free. However I was neither asked nor paid to endorse them. I simply love the product and will definitely go on to buy it once I've used up the last little bit.


Joanne on April 16, 2010 1:24 a.m. said...

I can't SAY it five times fast, but I certainly want to EAT it five times fast. This looks fantastic! I love eggplant parm and this is no exception. I love that it's grilled instead of breaded and fried!

nina on April 16, 2010 11:11 a.m. said...

Excellent..........Good thinking about the disclaimer, you are a clever bunny!!

Forage on April 16, 2010 3:43 p.m. said...

Hey Marisa ! I have 4 aubergines getting no love at home. But tomorrow they will be devoured in Creative Pot-style.

Marisa on April 16, 2010 4:50 p.m. said...

Joanne - would you believe I've never had it breaded & fried? But the grilled version sure is tasty though.

Nina - Yup, thought it was probably better to be on the safe side. :-)

Forage - Good to hear! Hope you enjoy them.

Green Kitchen Stories on April 16, 2010 6:01 p.m. said...

I failed the test ;o) But I would definitely make it anyway, Yummy! Btw- love your blog!

Marisa on April 17, 2010 8:21 a.m. said...

Luise - That's a huge compliment coming from you - I am so in love with your blog!

Juliana on April 18, 2010 1:01 a.m. said...

What a great sandwich using eggplants, it sure look so tasty and healthy :-)

Mike on April 23, 2010 6:07 p.m. said...

This is my kind of sandwich. Who needs a meat packed panini when you can eat one that's loaded with savory eggplant? Can't wait to make one of these. Now, to find some of that crazy infused olive oil...

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