Mediterranean Eggplant and Tomato Stacks, with eggplant sautéed to a crispy outer, pump tomatoes, cheese, pesto and wine drizzle stacks!
Mediterranean Summer Garden Eggplant and Tomatoes
Whether it’s a huge garden in your backyard, pots on a deck, windowsill herbs or the local farmer’s market, freshly picked veggies and herbs are a feast to celebrate!
I didn’t grow up gardening, I was lucky to keep a houseplant alive.
Then one day, life afforded me a backyard that was screaming for a garden.
It was trial and error at first, but I finally got the hang of what I could grow with little difficulty, what I would never be able to grow and mostly… what I wanted to grow to eat.
Eggplants Come In All Sizes And Are A Favored Mediterranean Ingredient
What’s not to love about eggplant! It’s creamy, yet meaty texture, could easily replace meat in many dishes.
Freshly picked from the garden, no matter the variety, or in the dead of winter from a local market, will satisfy even your meat lover’s ‘Meatless Monday’ meal.
Of all the veggies there are to choose from, eggplant is among the most versatile.
When they are ginormous, they roast or bake almost as though they are meat.
Those whimsical fairy tale eggplants that are no bigger than my finger, are tender and mild in flavor and are great in salads or layered among other ingredients.
The first time I wrapped Fish In Fig Leaves to roast, I stacked slivers of fairytale eggplant inside of the bundles. Spectacular!
Preparing Eggplant For Stacks
Most any time I cook with eggplant, I slice it open, salt it and let it rest for a bit.
This preliminary step extracts any of the bitter moisture in the eggplant.
While the salt also removes the ‘spongy’ texture sometimes in eggplant, it also makes it more creamy and tender once cooked.
Many Mediterranean Dishes – One Eggplant
Many of the eggplant dishes I grew up with in a Mediterranean influenced home, are still a part of my eggplant cooking repertoire:
- Baba Ganoush – a dip or sauce, I call the cousin to hummus, made with eggplant
- Deconstructed Ratatouille Pizza – everything you find in a ratatouille, only left visibly on top of a pizza with pesto underneath
- Fish In A Fig Leaf – beautifully roasted fish and baby eggplant wrapped inside of a fig leaf
- Tajine – a North African slow cooking method in clay pots with a variety of ingredients
- Ratatouille Bruschetta – summer’s harvest of eggplant, tomatoes, peppers and onions, simmered low and slow and served on top of an olive oil brushed and toasted slice of crusty bread
However, for this dish, I wanted to make a showstopper stack that visibly featured the eggplant and tomatoes and not cook them into disappearance.
These stacks are a meal in themselves and certainly showcase the eggplant and vine ripened tomatoes!
Mushrooms In The Stack
Do you ever crave mushrooms? I love eating lots of vegetables and in fact make it a practice to go meatless several days a week.
While I love nearly all vegetables, none of them leave my taste buds satisfied quite like Mushroom.
Once, when I was gifted a heap of shiitake mushrooms a friend had grown, I made a rustic Shiitake Mushroom Galette with wine and herbs just so I could make the mushrooms the entire meal!
Mushrooms have a meaty texture and an earthy flavor, and are wonderful sponges for soaking up flavors, especially fresh herbs or garlic.
Mushroom Eggplant And Tomato Stacks
I knew I wanted to bring mushrooms to this eggplant stack but I didn’t want them to fall off the stack; so the natural solution was to choose a mushroom equally large in size.
The portobello mushroom pairs deliciously with the meatiness of the eggplant.
Together, it’s almost like having a big ole burger!
Before sautéing the eggplant slices, they get a light dusting with cornflour and herbs, and do the same with the mushroom slices.
The slight crust that formed on both the eggplant and portobello, took the place of needing a bun or other bread.
Tomatoes Tomatoes Tomatoes
What’s not to love about this luscious juicy fruit, yes fruit!
It all has to do with what evolves from a flower.
Makes no sense to me because okra emerges from a flower, and it’s considered a vegetable.
Who cares, between these two plump meaty veggies, I wanted a plump, juicy, sweet, yet salted tomato, to bring a taste of the Mediterranean cuisine, to my plate, right here in Maryland.
Which, by the way, tomatoes grow abundantly here in Maryland, whether it’s an entire field or a pot on your deck with clusters of cherry tomatoes hanging from it.
Making An Eggplant and Tomato Stack
Think about making this tall tower of deliciousness, the same as you would approach stacking a big ole sandwich or burger!
Each component gets treated individually, whether sautéed, sliced and salted, or the whisk of a wine and basil drizzle.
Fresh basil, finely ‘chiffonade chopped’ and mixed with a little olive oil and something acidic, in this case white wine, will extract the aromatic flavor of the basil.
This drizzle compliments the eggplant tower beautifully and with lots of fresh basil on top, a great pesto flavor appears to be there.
Once each component is completed (which can be done in advance), the tower gets stacked, baked for a short time and served!
- Portobello mushrooms
- Sheep Cheese – Manchego or others. They melt slower.
- Fresh basil
- Olive oil
- Corn flour
- Smoked paprika
- Dried thyme
- White wine
- Cutting board
- Saute pan
- Metal spatula
- Chopping knife
- Medium mixing bowl – for dredging
- Small mixing bowl – for drizzle
- Basing brush
- Baking sheet
- Parchment paper
Mediterranean Eggplant and Tomato Stacks
- Saute pan
- Baking pan
- Parchment paper and foil
- 4 Portobello mushrooms medium size
- 2 Eggplant enough for 4 slices per eggplant
- 4 Tomatoes large
- 4 oz Manchego or other Sheep Cheese – 4 oz, sliced into 8 slices (2 per tower) sliced into 8 slices, 2 per tower stack
- Fresh basil 1 bunch
- 1/3 cup Olive oil more if needed
- 4 tbsp Butter
- 1 cup Flour
- 1/2 cup Corn flour
- 1 tbsp Smoked paprika
- 2 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Dried Thyme
- 2 Garlic cloves crushed
- 1/2 cup White wine
- Cut eggplants 1/2 inch thick. Place on a baking sheet, sprinkle with a little salt. Let sit for 30 minutes to debitter the eggplant. Brush the salt off after 30 minutes.
- Cut stems off of the portobello mushrooms and trim to 1/2 thick rounds (4 total). Set aside.
- Cut tomatoes to 1/2 inch thick rounds (8 total, 2 per stack). Set aside.
- Mix the dredging ingredients: flour, corn flour, paprika, 1 tsp salt and thyme and mix.
- Preheat the oven to 350
- In a hot frying pan, place 2 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp butter. Brush a little olive oil on both sides of the eggplant, dip in dredging flour and and sauté both sides of the eggplant. Set aside. Do the same with the mushroom slices.
- Arrange the towers on a parchment paper lined baking sheet placing the mushroom upside down first. Layer an eggplant slice, a tomato, cheese slice, then another eggplant, tomato then cheese.
- In a small bowl, whisk the white wine, 2 crushed cloves of garlic, finely chopped basil (leaving some whole for garnish), and 2 tbsp of olive oil. Drizzle the sauce over each tower. Cover with parchment paper first then foil.
- Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.
- Place finely chopped basil on top just before serving.