Tuesday, September 2, 2014

tomatoes with crisp fried eggplant and burrata.

Let's get this out of the way, ok? Panko crusted pan-fried eggplant is awesome.  

Good, now that we've established that, let's talk about this dish which I keep referring to as a deconstructed eggplant parmeasn and if we're being honest, I think it's better then eggplant parmesan.  

I've been on a hunt as of late for eggplant recipes because I tend to rely on my defaults i.e. smoky eggplant dip and this pizza (which is awesome I might add). I had lofty summer plans involving perfecting my eggplant caponata game and also re-imagining the eggplant pizza but as usual I got sidetracked (I am the worst).  This dish, which I discovered when browsing online for food-spiration (more specifically eggplant inspiration) ticked off all the boxes that I require to be ticked off this time of year - does not involve the oven!, involves tomatoes and burrata!, can be prepared in under 30 minutes!.  

My problem with eggplant parm has always been that it's a heavy wintery dish which is why this version is so incredible.  You get the flavors of eggplant parm but without the heaviness.  It's light and fresh!  The true star of the dish is the panko crusted eggplant which is seriously amazing.  Crispy and crunchy (eggplant parm lacks the crunch which is where this dish shines) and positively perfect with chopped tomatoes and creamy burrata.  This is the kind of thing you should be eating this week as the perfect summer send-off (though I will be eating it well into the beginning of fall).  

Tomatoes with Crisp Fried Eggplant and Burrata 
Recipe adapted (barely) from Lootie and Doof

Serves 2

All-purpose flour, for dredging
1 large egg, well beaten
1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
2 Japanese eggplants (½ to ¾ pounds total), cut on the bias into ½ -inch-thick slices
8 ounces cherry tomatoes, preferably in a mix of colors (you can sub larger tomatoes that you cut into wedges)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, half of them torn
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
Vegetable oil, for frying
1 ball or about 6 ounces burrata cheese (you can use fresh mozzarella, but it won’t be as creamy and delicious)

Place flour, eggs, and breadcrumbs in 3 separate wide, shallow bowls. Working with 1 eggplant slice at a time, dredge in flour, then dip in egg and then breadcrumbs. Transfer to a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, halve tomatoes and toss with olive oil and torn basil. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat about 1/4 inch vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add enough eggplant slices to fill but not crowd skillet and fry, flipping once, until deep golden brown and crunchy, 1 to 2 minutes on each side. (Lower heat slightly, if necessary.) Remove with a slotted spoon, drain on a clean wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet, and season with salt. Discard used oil and repeat process with fresh oil and remaining eggplant.

Arrange eggplant and tomato mixture on a platter. Cut burrata in half, place next to tomatoes, and season with salt and pepper. Scatter remaining basil on top.

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