Eggplant & Buffalo Mozzarella Stacks

2:09 am on 1 August 2009

This is divine. Serve it with a crisp and crunchy garden salad.

Fresh fast food
Fresh Fast Food talks to Julie Biuso, who's taking a break in her schedule for the Food Show in Auckland. (duration: 21′10″)
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(Makes 4)

Ingredients

  • olive oil
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • sea salt
  • 1 large eggplant
  • 1 cup basil leaves
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 250g small balls buffalo mozzarella (or cow's milk mozzarella) 
  • 125g (6 large squares) dried lasagne pasta squares

Method

1. Put a splash of oil into a small pan and set over a medium heat. Add pine nuts and cook, tossing often, until lightly golden in colour. Transfer to a plate and sprinkle with sea salt. Cool.

2. Slice eggplant very thinly. Heat a ridged frying pan over a medium-high heat (or cook the eggplant over a barbecue grill). Dunk several eggplant slices in oil, just to give a light coating of oil, then put them in the heated pan (you'll need to cook the eggplant in 2-3 batches). Cook until a really good deep golden brown. Transfer to a plate as they are done and sprinkle with sea salt.

3. Make the pesto next. Put basil leaves, cooled pine nuts and garlic in a food processor and process until smooth. Pour in the extra virgin olive oil, then add most of the parmesan cheese (reserve some cheese for the top of the stacks). Drain mozzarella and pat dry with kitchen paper.

4. Cook the pasta by plunging the lasagne squares into a large pot of gently bubbling salted water and cooking them until al dente. Drain and transfer to a bowl of warm water.
Work with one square of pasta at a time. Cut pasta square in half and put the pieces in a shallow ovenproof dish lined with baking paper. Slice mozzarella. Assemble two stacks by putting a piece of eggplant, a dollop of pesto a slice or two of mozzarella and a grind of black pepper on each piece of pasta. Cover with another piece of pasta, repeat layering, put a third piece of pasta on top, then finally a layer of eggplant, pesto and mozzarella. Repeat procedure with remaining ingredients making 4 stacks in total.

5. Sprinkle pasta stacks with parmesan cheese, then bake for 10 minutes in an oven preheated to 200°C (fanbake). Remove from oven, heat grill on high then brown pasta stacks under grill until bubbling and golden. Serve hot.

From Jesse Mulligan, 1–4pm

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