Chris started a new job working at a start-up so that basically means I don’t see him anymore. With my job starting with super early mornings (grr, meetings with EU) and his staying late, we really have to rely on planning date nights now. We wanted to spend more time with the pug too and decided date night at home would be optimal for us.
I told Chris I’d surprise him with dinner. And Chris would surprise me with dessert (big shocker, the way to my heart is through my sweet tooth). A few weeks ago I had watched a YouTube video by ByronTalbott. He made an eggplant parmesan that looked pretty damn good. However, he omitted tomato…. I feel tomato is a crucial part to calling something a parmigiana. A parmigiana is a classic Italian dish layering a fried element, cheese, and tomato sauce and then baked. I liked ByronTalbott’s rendition but I decided to change it up a little bit with some tomatoes. I still cheated a bit and didn’t bake anything though.
Tomato season is coming to an end in CA so I thought it would be great to honor the lovely fruit (Yes! Tomatoes are a fruit!). I love heirloom tomatoes. They’re so sweet and juicy and pretty. I felt it would elevate the dish by searing off a thick slice of heirloom tomato to stack inside slices of fried eggplant to create a dramatic dish with height and lots of moisture.
- 1 large Italian eggplant, sliced about ¼ inch thick (3 slices per serving)
- 2 large heirloom tomatoes, sliced about ¼ inch thick (3 slices per serving)
- 16 ounces burrata
- 2 cups balsamic vinegar
- 1 bunch fresh basil
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- 3 cups breadcrumbs
- 3 eggs
- ¼ cup milk
- ½ tablespoon dried oregano
- Olive oil
- Oil for frying
- In a small saucepan, reduce balsamic vinegar over medium heat until reduced to half the volume. The reduction should be a syrupy consistency. If it becomes over-reduced and too hard, add some splashes of balsamic vinegar to the reduction over medium heat to thin it out. Remove reduction from heat and place in a bowl to cool – the reduction will continue to thicken while cooling.
- Toast pine nuts in a small pan over low heat. Set aside for later use.
- In a small frying pan, place a small amount of olive oil and give tomatoes a quick fry on both sides over medium high heat. Salt and pepper both sides of the tomato while in frying pan. Place tomatoes aside for later use.
- Mix eggs with milk and salt/pepper. Mix breadcrumbs with oregano and salt/pepper.
- In a large cast iron skillet, pour about an inch to inch and half of canola oil and heat over medium high heat.
- Dip eggplant into egg mixture and then cover in breadcrumbs. Re-dip into egg mixture and cover in breadcrumbs a second time.
- Fry the eggplant pieces until golden brown (I like to set the fried eggplant pieces on paper towel to soak up excess oil).
- Assemble by layering eggplant, tomato, burrata, and basil leaves and topping with pine nuts. Drizzle sauce and serve.
FYI, Chris said this is the best thing I’ve ever made. He took one bite and turned to me and said it is restaurant quality. Then he proceeded to devour his portion, and also all of my leftovers.