Yesterday I thought of making a pizza tonight, since we would be out of bread, but for some reason I thought of this recipe that I haven’t made in awhile, which also doesn’t demand bread as an accompaniment. This is a “sandwich” made on the grill, with eggplant slices as the “bread” and red pepper puree, prosciutto, basil, and fresh mozzarella in between.
Cut eight 1/2″ (or so) thick slices from a globe eggplant (as uniform in diameter as you can get), brush with olive oil, and grill four slices (the smaller ones) on both sides and the other four (the larger ones) on one side. Remove the eggplant from the grill, turn the one-side slices uncooked-side-down (you can see where this is heading), top with a Tbsp of red pepper puree*, a slice of good prosciutto (folded to fit), a slice of fresh mozzarella^, and one large or several small basil leaves; and then top it off with the two-sides-cooked eggplant. Move the sandwich back onto the grill, cover, and cook about 3 – 4 minutes to cook the last side of the eggplant and melt the cheese. Probably a good idea to heat the plate, too.
*Red pepper puree: freezer magic kit! Roast a red pepper over a gas burner or on a grill, slowly and covered, so the skin is blackened and the flesh is cooked but not burnt. Move to a small, covered, heat-proof container (not a plastic bag, unless you promise to wash and reuse it) and let it steam itself for at least 15 minutes. Remove the stem, skin, and seeds, drain of residual liquids, and blend or Cuise to a puree with 1/2 Tbsp olive oil and a rounded 1/4 tsp kosher salt. (This is not to be religious, unless you want it to be, this is to measure the salt correctly: kosher salt is big, so not as much fits into a tsp as with little salt.)
Freeze leftover puree in an ice cube tray till solid, then pop out and put in a tightly sealed container for emergency use (see panini comment above!)
^ I once tried Gustosella mozzarella di bufala with this, and the subtlety of that cheese was lost on this recipe. Use the cheaper fresh mozz! I found Bel Gioioso works fine.
I once served Kashi mixed grains with this – expensive but delicious – but the
Bowl doesn’t sell this any more. I went through a bunch of ideas, and then realized that I had leftover Thai jasmine rice from the chicken dinner a couple days ago and should use that up instead of making new leftovers. I cut up about 1/4 of a red onion and two stalks of aging celery into small pieces/slices, and cooked them till soft in olive oil, then added the leftover rice and perhaps 10 Nicoise olives, cut into 2 or 3 slices each, and a Tbsp of butter, and cooked the rice while I finished off the eggplant sandwiches. D commented especially that he liked the rice.
D chose the Eguia Rioja (2005) that we got from Vintage Berkeley last year or so. He opened it more than an hour before dinner, and it was excellent, and a great choice for the meal.