Today's French word is aubergine: definition: eggplant.
My favorite all time food is fried eggplant. I hate when eggplant is mushy and sliced thick, it has no flavor, when you order it grilled and it comes out steamed. Disgusting.
Eggplant is like a sponge, it absorbs a lot of oil an it is truly an art to get it right. My friend Missi and I used to eat Italian fried eggplant in high school and we used to say that it burned our gums. I don't know why, but good eggplant tingles your gums! I am not kidding. That is how we determined if we liked it or not.
For me, it has to be PAPER THIN, lightly battered in egg & parmesan with a hint of soft breadcrumbs. The old Italian way is to salt your eggplant slices and put them in paper bags to drain out the moisture. I skip this part, because I don't want it to take the entire day.
It is a chore to fry up eggplants and makes your stovetop a disgusting mess. The oil spatters everywhere, and when I do it, I make a TON of it, and freeze the slices for future rollatini, or eggplant parm, because I hate doing it.
This weekend with some of my fried eggplant slices, I made eggplant stacks, 2 days in a row. One day served room temperature for lunch, and the next night, I assembled them again and baked them in the oven. I can't decide which one was better.
Here is what I did:
Paper thin eggplant slices, sliced the long way
Fried quickly in flour, egg, and parmesan/breadcrumb mixture (salt & pepper), drained on paper towels.
Leave the drained, fried slices on the counter all day, don't refrigerate or they will no longer be crispy, they get mushy. They taste great eaten just at room temperature, plain!!
Cut the slices in half, so you have 2 pieces for the stacks.
Lay one half of an eggplant slice and top with a slice of fresh mozzarella cheese, a basil leaf or two and a ripe tomato slice. It's like making a sandwich.
Then top with another half slice of eggplant.
A swipe of basil pesto.
Top with another slice of fresh mozzarella and end with a tomato slice, basil leaf and roasted red peppers on top.
There is no real science to this, and you can't screw it up. Just pile it as you would a sandwich or layer like a lasagna.
When ready to serve, drizzle with balsamic vinegar. This is SO GOOD.