Eggplant Stack Appetizer

eggplant stack
Patsy Catsos, MS, RDN, LD
Total Time 45 min
Prep 20 min, Cook 25 min
Yield 4 (4 1/2 ounces each)

This appetizer starts with the classic caprese combination of fresh tomato, mozzarella, and basil. The addition of broiled eggplant and the stacked presentation make it extra special. Eggplant stacks can also be served as a light lunch or dinner with a salad or a side of low-FODMAP pasta.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound fresh unpeeled eggplant
  • 1 tablespoon garlic-infused olive oil
  • 1/16 teaspoon salt
  • 1/16 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper            
  • 1 medium tomato
  • ½ 12-ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained
  • 4 ounces fresh, whole milk mozzarella cheese
  • ½ cup packed fresh basil

Preparation

  1. Preheat broiler. Cut the eggplant into 8 ½- inch rounds at a point where eggplant is 3 to 4 inches in diameter, to make 4 pairs of similar sized medallions. Save leftover eggplant for another use.
  2. Place rounds on the baking sheet and brush both sides with garlic-infused oil. Lightly salt and pepper eggplant rounds.
  3. Broil them on the top rack of the oven until eggplant is medium golden-brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn eggplant pieces over and broil on the other side until browned, 3 to 4 minutes more.
  1. Remove pan from oven, turn off broiler, and turn oven to 425F.
  2. Slice the tomato horizontally into 8 1/8-inch thick rounds. Cut bell pepper into 8 2-inch squares. Slice the cheese into very thin, 1/2-ounce slices.
  3. To assemble, top each eggplant round with 2 or 3 basil leaves, then a tomato slice, followed by roasted red bell pepper, ending with a slice of mozzarella.
  4. Place one short eggplant stack on top of another to create 4 tall stacks. If there are size differences, keep the slightly larger stacks on the bottom for stability.
  5. Spear stacks through the center with long toothpicks (or wooden skewers) through all of the layers. Bake on the middle rack of the oven until mozzarella is melted and just beginning to turn brown, 12 to 14 minutes.

Ingredient Variations and Substitutions

Use freshly roasted bell pepper instead of jarred peppers. Cut a 10 to 12 ounce red bell pepper in half lengthwise, and discard stems and seeds.

Place the bell pepper skin-side up at one end of baking sheet and broil along with the eggplant. Press on the pepper firmly to flatten, uncurling both ends of pepper so it lies completely flat. The pepper will split in places. Have a small bowl and plastic wrap nearby. Broil until skin is black all over about 8 to 10 minutes.

It may take more or less time than the eggplant. Remove from the baking sheet, place in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap for 10 minutes. Peel off the blackened skin and discard. Cut as described above.

Cooking and Serving Tips

A log-shaped fresh mozzarella cheese is much easier to cut into ½-ounce slices than a ball-shaped one. Dental floss does a nice job of slicing mozzarella cheese.

Look for dark-purple eggplants with straight sides. If you need all four portions to be exactly the same size for presentation purposes, or if the available eggplants are very tapered in shape, you might need to purchase an extra eggplant to yield four pairs of eggplant medallions of equal diameter.

To make cleanup a snap, line the baking sheet with aluminum foil before broiling the eggplant.

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