One of my favorite parts about summer food is that I hardly have to do any actual cooking. I simply purchase fresh ingredients at the market, and let the food do the rest. In my cooking experience I have always found that, when it comes to fresh vegetables, the simpler the preparation the more delicious the dish. I think anyone who regularly cooks with fresh foods would handily agree. When I bring home my tote bag of food every week I tend to unload my purchases onto the counter, take a quick survey, and let the ingredients inspire me.
Last week I was inspired by a tote bag full of tomatoes I purchased at the Cooperstown Farmer's Market. The fact that I brought home over a dozen fresh tomatoes was no surprise to my husband. I love tomatoes so much that, when I am visiting the country, I can often be found raiding the tomato patches of family and friends all summer long. In fact, in my family's efforts to ensure the year-round enjoyment of our homegrown heirloom tomatoes, my father and I often can a few dozen jars of them in August. I will share with you my canning adventures in August, for sure. But, in the mean time, I am going to share with you one my favorite ways to enjoy tomatoes, in this delicious summer sandwich.
One of the main reasons I love this sandwich is because the combination of eggplant, tomato and mozzarella is, in my opinion, one of the best flavor medleys ever created. I start making this sandwich by breading the eggplant with panko breadcrumbs to give it a light and flavorful crunch. After that, I saute the eggplant in olive oil to heat it through and leach out any bitterness. Then, I apply a layer of my homemade pesto, followed by thin slices of fresh mozzarella and tomato, and top it all with second slice of breaded eggplant.
As you can surmise, by that brief description, this sandwich is a total snap to make. To save myself time in the evening I bread the eggplant and bake the lavash chips - my favorite accompaniment - during my daughter's afternoon naptime. Then, at dinnertime, I merely execute my quick saute, stack the ingredients and, ta-da, a delicious summery meal is served. Everyone's favorite part about this meal is that the vegetables flavors are fresh and unadulterated due to the simple preparation, and I agree. However, I will confess, my favorite part about this meal is that I barely have to do any actual cooking at all.
Naptime's Tomato, Mozzarella & Pesto on Eggplant "Bread" with Baked Lavash Chips
inspired by fresh summer ingredients
1 large eggplant, cut into strips
2 fresh tomatoes, sliced
1 ball lightly salted fresh mozzarella, cut into thin slices
4 T. fresh pesto
2 c. panko breadcrumbs (or regular unseasoned breadcrumbs if you don't have panko)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
Yields 2 large sandwiches, recipe can be doubled or tripled for more.
1. Slice the eggplant into 1/2 inch strips. To bread the eggplant, first, dip each strip into the flour until fully coated. Then, dip each strip into the egg, followed by the panko. Each strip should be full coated with panko bread crumbs before going any further.
2. Warm 2 t. olive oil in a skillet. Add eggplant slices to the olive oil and saute until lightly golden brown and cooked through. Do not undercook the eggplant, you want to make sure all of the bitterness is gone.
3. On a separate plate have the tomato slices and mozzarella slices ready to go. When each eggplant slice is complete begin assembling the sandwich.
4. First, place on eggplant slice on a plate and coat the topside with 2 T. of pesto. On top of this stack two slice of mozzarella, followed by two slices of tomato. Top with second slice of eggplant and serve.
Baked Lavash Chips
inspired the lavash chips from my favorite restaurant
2 sheets of lavash (I use whole wheat, but regular white lavash is perfectly fine)
1. Preheat oven to 350. Line a jelly roll pan with aluminum foil
2. Cut lavash sheets into strips that are about 4-inches long and 1-inch wide.
3. Brush each side with olive oil and sprinkle tops with sea salt. Place on prepared jelly roll pan.
4. Bake for 6-8 minutes until golden brown. Or, bake longer if needed.
Naptime Recipe Props: This sandwich is a fantastic way to enjoy fresh vegetables from the garden. It works well for both lunch and dinner, and can be sliced and served as an appetizer as well. If you want to add zucchini or squash that might taste good, as well.
Naptime Stopwatch: Breading the eggplant takes about 8 minutes, followed by a slow saute for another 5 minutes. Assembling the sandwich takes about thirty seconds, it couldn't be easier to make.
Naptime Reviews: Everyone loves this sandwich, even my daughter. She, of course, disassembles it before eating, preferring to consume each ingredient separately instead of together.