Let’s talk Labor day. Do you have plans yet? I am heading to Sebec Lake in Maine to go fishing with my mom, dad, and Eric. Let me set the scene for you: there’s me, lounging away on the boat reading my book, trying to catch the last few rays of the summer sunshine. Then there’s my dad, tinkering endlessly with said boat. My mom and Eric are somewhere in the middle, competing over who can catch the most fish, although Eric doesn’t stand a chance.
The notorious Wanyo luck makes for some interesting vacations. We have aptly and fondly named our boat “The Fungoola” (technically fanculo in its native language) which is an Italian word meaning something I doubt I’m allowed to say on my G-Rated blog. Nonetheless, it is a word we shout often while trying to get the boat started. Once, the boat stalled out as we were being circled by two furious eagles trying to protect their nearby nest. They kept hovering closer and closer, talons locked and loaded, until finally, my dad got the boat to start. Other than narrowly escaping ticked off eagles on the lake, our vacations are centered around food. I have been getting calls for about two months now from my mom regarding what we’re going to cook. I’ll keep you updated after the weekend on how many pounds I gained stuffing my face, but until then, I made you a tomato, basil, mozzarella on steroids. I switched out the mozzarella for burrata, which is very similar but much creamier. I also added fried, breaded eggplant for crunch.
I started by infusing olive oil with finely chopped basil and garlic. I let that all hangout on the counter to get nice and tasty.
Meanwhile, I set up a breading station by slicing the eggplant, dipping it in flour, egg, and then seasoned breadcrumbs. I fried them up in a little bit of canola oil and set them to drain on a paper towel. I put them on a baking sheet and kept them in a warm oven to stay crispy while I worked on the rest of the dish.
As the eggplant warmed in the oven, I made a balsamic reduction by bringing balsamic vinegar and sugar to a boil until it thickened. It got really syrupy by the end, just don’t let it go too long or you’ll get caramel!
Once I started the balsamic, I sliced up the tomatoes and burrata. To put it all together, I stacked the tomatoes, eggplant, then burrata, and topped it off with the basil oil and balsamic reduction.
It was a mix of all different textures, creamy burrata, and crispy eggplant, not to mention many levels of flavor. So good! I’m off tomorrow on my vacation until Monday, but you can count on some pretty entertaining stories when I get back!
Recipe: Fried Eggplant Caprese
For the Oil:
- 3 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
- small handful basil, very finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
Chop up the basil and garlic very finely and place into a small bowl. Add the oil and mix, allow to sit about 30 minutes.
For the Eggplant:
- 1 small eggplant, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup flour
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs
- 1 TBSP fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 TBSP fresh basil, chopped
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- pinch red pepper flakes
- salt and pepper
- 3 TBSP canola oil
Thinly slice the eggplant. Using three separate bowls, place the flour in one, the egg in the next, and the breadcrumbs in the last. Season the breadcrumbs with the parsley, basil, Parmesan, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper. A slice at a time, put the eggplant in the flour first, shaking off the excess. Dip it into the egg bowl next, full coating it. Drop into the breadcrumbs and coat. Set each slice aside until they’re all coated. It is helpful to use one hand for the dry ingredients, flour and breadcrumbs, and your other hand for the egg. Fry the slices in a pan with olive oil on medium high heat until golden on each side. Place browned slices on a paper towel to drain and sprinkle with salt. Set your oven to 250 degrees, and put the eggplant on a baking sheet in the oven to keep warm and crispy for a few minutes.
For the Balsamic Reduction:
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp granulated sugar
In a small saucepan, bring the balsamic and sugar to a boil and stir frequently until thick. Turn off the heat just when it starts to thicken, as it will get even thicker once it cools. Set aside
- 2 large tomatoes
- burrata cheese ( I found it at Market Basket!), sprinkled lightly with salt
Place a layer of tomato, followed by a slice of eggplant and burrata. Keep layering and top with balsamic reduction and basil oil.