Dinner “all’Italiana” at La Moussière – Antipasto
On my last evening in France, Roger and I decided to cook dinner together – an Italian menu made of an antipasto of eggplant/aubergine/melanzane, and a simple pasta recipe, which will be on my upcoming post.
Since Roger had bought some beautiful eggplants, he had a great recipe in mind. While we were going through all the ingredients, I was skeptical when he told me he wanted to add Gorgonzola cheese to this recipe. Don’t get me wrong, I do like Gorgonzola, it is just that my Italian “foodie – microchip” was sending me error signals. In Italy, Gorgonzola cheese is widely used during winter, and there are fantastic winter recipes of Gorgonzola with risotto, polenta, and – of course – pasta. I personally love whole grain crostini with Gorgonzola and pears or Gorgonzola with honey and nuts. However, in this recipe I wanted the eggplant to be the star, so adding Gorgonzola would have cancelled out its taste (it is like having Madonna and Lady Gaga on stage at the same time).
Since it was a summer recipe, we decided to add fresh ingredients such as tomatoes, lemon zest, fresh tarragon and basil. Also, since we were in France, we used delicious crème fraîche.
Eggplants stacks, fresh tomatoes and crème fraîche with a basil garlic sauce.
- 3 small eggplants
- 9 heirloom tomato slices
- 15 teaspoons of crème fraîche
- some tarragon leaves
- lemon zest
- 2 garlic cloves, sliced
- salt and pepper to taste
- extra virgin olive oil
For basil sauce
- about ½ cup of basil leaves
- about 6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- ½ chopped garlic clove (if you are keen on garlic, use 1 clove)
- salt and pepper to taste
Prepare basil garlic sauce by mixing all ingredients in a blender. Set aside
Slice eggplants lengthwise into 5 slices. Keep only one of the tips since we are using only 4 slices per eggplant.
Salt eggplants and leave for 1 hour.
Meanwhile season tomato slices with extra virgin olive oil, lemon zest, garlic slices, and salt and pepper. Leave for an hour. Discard garlic.
Rinse the eggplant slices, drain and pat dry
Dip in olive oil and chargrill on both sides until soft, and then transfer to a dish. In this phase, it is important to group together the slices belonging to each eggplant for plating purposes.
Combine tarragon leaves with crème fraîche.
Plating the dish
To serve, place a spoonful or two of the basil garlic sauce onto each plate. Arrange the bottom slice of an eggplant on top. Add a tomato slice on top. Add a teaspoon of crème fraîche. Continue layering until you place the tip of the lengthwise-cut eggplant. Add two teaspoons of crème fraîche. Garnish with a basil or a tarragon leaf.