Any recipe that includes eggplant usually catches my eye. And this one is no different. Combine them with mozzarella and basil oil and you have a winner! And although the peak season for eggplants tends to be in the July-October timeframe they are pretty easy to come across year-round.
This week's recipe of the Week is Seared Baby Eggplant with Mozzarella and Basil Oil that comes from one of my favorite magazines, Vegetarian Times. They can be used as an entree (maybe 2-3 "stacks" per plate) or as a side.
The eggplants are nicely caramelized which gives them a nice richness and sweetness. The leeks add a nice, mild onion-y taste. And I love the tangy saltiness of capers. If you want to add a little more basil flavor (never a bad idea in my opinion), I'd chop or chiffonade some fresh basil leaves and sprinkle them over the top of each eggplant/mozzarella "stack". Don't know how to chiffonade? Maybe now's the time to learn this simple technique. Here are some instructions from TheKitchn.com: How To Chiffonade Fresh Basil Leaves.
This recipe is not very hard to make. But do give yourself about two hours or so. The eggplant slices get salted to make them release moisture. That part takes about 45 minutes. The rest of the recipe can be done in about 30-45 minutes. The eggplant slices get seared in batches; so the time depends on the size of your skillet (which drives the number of batches you will have to make to use all your eggplant slices). Each one takes about 10-15 minutes.
If you make nothing else, the basil oil part of this recipe is worth making on it's own. It can be refrigerated and last for up to a month.