The market is still loaded with tomatoes, and showing many of the heirloom varieties. We are getting the zucchini and eggplants now, and the great greens like rapini and bok choy. Sometimes I just gather a half dozen different vegetables and stir fry them and eat them alone in a large bowl, with a touch of Bragg’s Liguid Aminos. What a dinner, loaded with vitamins and minerals. This week I am combining vegetables with cheese.
I found a recipe by Ming Tsai that plays the caprese salad in a whole different way. Also a Japanese eggplant recipe stuffed with goat cheese. Very simple. Both use a balsamic reduction sauce, which is made simply by slowing cooking down vinegar to a syrup. It becomes sweeter and incredibly pungent, perfect on grilled vegetables of any kind.
Grilled Eggplant Stuffed w/ Goat Cheese
2 Japanese Eggplant, sliced on a lengthwise bias, 4-5 slices each, 4 inches long, 10 slices total
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ goat cheese softened to room temperature
1 clove garlic, minced
3 medium basil leaves, chiffonade (rolled lengthwise and sliced thin)
1/8 cup fig balsamic vinegar reduction sauce
Brush eggplant on both sides with olive oil and grill on very hot heated stove-top grill, a couple minutes, turning 45 degrees for crisscross grill marks on each side. Set aside. Eggplant should be soft but not mushy.
In bowl, mix the goat cheese and garlic with fork.
Place a rounded teaspoon of the cheese mixture on the wide end of the grilled eggplant and roll up. Repeat with the rest of the eggplant.
Place rolls on a plate, drizzle with Fig Balsamic Vinegar Reduction Sauce and sprinkle with chiffonade basil. Serve as an appetizer.
To make the vinegar reduction, place 2/3 cup of vinegar in a small saucepan and simmer over low heat until reduced to about 1/8 cup.
Tempura Tomato Caprese Salad
From Ming Tsai, of Blue Ginger Restaurant
3 large tomatoes cut in 1/2 inch slices, 12 slices total
1 ½ cups of vegetable oil, heated to medium high high in a medium skillet
8 slices of fresh mozzarella cheese, ½ inch slices
Tempura batter (made according to box directions, with ice water)
4 basil leaves, chiffonade, (rolled lengthwise and cut in thin slices)
1/8 cup fig balsamic vinegar reduction sauce (reduced from ¾ cup vinegar over low heat)
Have all ingredients ready, as this has to be assembled and served right away while tomatoes are hot and crispy. The semi-crunchy tomato and the soft cheese are a perfect balance, with the sweet tang of the vinegar reduction to top it off with a taste explosion.
Dip tomatoes in tempura batter and immediately place carefully in the heated oil in skillet. Cook until just slightly golden and turn over and cook to golden on other side, approx. 1 minute on each side. Remove from pan and place on paper toweling to absorb excess oil. Cook tomatoes in a two or three batches.
You can stack on a plate for all four salads or individually on four salad plates.
For each of the four individual salads, start with a tempura tomato slice on the bottom, then a cheese slice, a tomato slice, cheese again, and finish with a tomato slice, for a total of 3 tomato slices and 2 cheese slices.
Sprinkle basil over salads and drizzle with balsamic vinegar reduction sauce. Serve immediately.