Leaning Eggplant Towers
Chef’s Notes: My husband, Dave, has had great success growing different varieties of eggplant in our garden. This recipe is a wonderful reinvention of classic eggplant parmesan, although ours involves no frying, which translates to great flavor and fewer calories—win-win! If you are using this recipe as a main course, try making a double-stacked tower. Another way to serve this is on ciabatta bread for a sandwich on the go.
Makes 2 entrée servings or 4 first-course servings
Total Time: 75 minutes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large or 2 medium eggplants, sliced crosswise into a total of 8 (1/2-inch-thick) medallions
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 tomatoes, sliced crosswise into 8 (1/2-inch-thick) medallions
- 1 large white or red onion, sliced crosswise into 8 (1/2-inch-thick) medallions
- 1 (1-pound) mozzarella ball, sliced crosswise into 8 (1/2-inch-thick) medallions
- 1/2 cup pesto
- 2 cups quartered cherry tomatoes
- 4 ounces capellini
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly grease a 9 x 13-inch oval gratin or baking dish. Set both aside.
Brush the olive oil on both sides of each eggplant slice. Season with salt and pepper. Spread out the eggplant slices in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, flip the slices, and continue baking for another 15 minutes. Remove the eggplant from the oven, but keep the oven on.
Transfer the eggplant slices to the prepared gratin dish. On each one, stack a tomato slice, onion slice, and mozzarella slice; you will have 8 individual stacks. Top each stack with 2 teaspoons pesto. Season with salt and pepper. Add the cherry tomatoes to the gratin dish, around the stacks.
Bake for 30 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbling and the towers are slightly soft.
While the towers bake, bring a large pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the capellini and cook until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water to use just in case your cooked pasta needs some hydration, then drain the noodles.
Divide the capellini among two or four plates and place one or two eggplant towers on each. Spoon the cherry tomatoes and juice from the baking dish over the eggplant stacks and pasta. Serve.
Reprinted with permission from “Pesto: The Modern Mother Sauce” by Leslie Lennox, Agate Surrey, 2019.