Is it April yet?
Actually, we’ve had a very busy month and March has flown by. But we’ve got so much good stuff in store for April I am anxious to flip the calendar. And maybe, just maybe, the weather will finally start getting better. We do get the occasional day in the fifties, or dare I say the sixties, but then the temperature plummets and we are back dealing with snow flurries and a wintry mix. Sigh.
Regardless of what the weather is though, around this time of year I start to really crave salads. I think my body is saying enough with the soup and chili already – give me all the greens!
To celebrate the return of spring and fresh fruits and vegetables, I’ll be sharing some of my favorite salad recipes with you all next month. I can’t wait to chow down on all those fresh, yummy salad bowls.
But I just couldn’t wait until next month to share today’s recipe. This Baked Eggplant Bruschtta is like a quasi-salad. The base of this recipe is breaded eggplant (baked not fried), and it’s topped with peppery arugula, marinated tomatoes and a some slices of fresh mozzarella. As if that weren’t good enough, the entire thing is drizzles with olive oil and balsamic glaze. And it is divine!
To make this recipe I started by marinating my tomatoes. I sued a pint of grape tomatoes, which I sliced in half and placed in a glass bowl. I added 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper, 1 minced clove of garlic, 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of dried Italian seasoning. I tossed the ingredients together and letdt the tomatoes to marinate on my counter for about two hours.
About 30 minutes before I was ready to her, I preheated the oven to 425 degrees and coated a baking sheet with olive oil. Then I peeled and sliced two medium-sized eggplant longways. I know there’s a big debate in the cooking world over whether or not you have to peel eggplant, and I suppose it’s a matter of taste; but, I ALWAYS peel my eggplant. I don’t like the tough texture or the bitter flavor that eggplant skin brings to a dish, and I don’t think salting eliminates the need to peel. But that’s just my opinion. If you don’t peel your eggplant, that’s fine. But you do so at your own risk.
Then I dipped the eggplant pieces in an egg wash and coated them with panko breadcrumbs before placing them on the olive oil coated baking sheet. I spritzed them with olive oil and put them into the hot oven. I let the eggplant cook for about 10 minutes, then flipped and continued cooking for an additional ten minutes until both sides were brown and crispy.
While the eggplant was cooking I made the balsamic glaze. To make the glaze I simply combined 2 cups of balsamic vinegar and 1/3 cup of brown sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat and stirred until the sugar was dissolved. Then I reduced the heat and allowed the mixture to simmer for about 20 minutes until the glaze was reduced by about half and sticky enough to adhere to the back of metal spoon.
To serve, I placed a couple of eggplant slices on a dish, sprinkled about 1/2 cup of arugula on top, topped with some marinated tomatoes and drizzled with balsamic glaze and olive oil. Like all things in life, this Bruschetta is even better when served with a big piece of crusty bread.