Eggplanchetta

Most of my creations start with trying to duplicate something delicious that I ate at a restaurant. Of course I usually try to finagle the recipe out of them first. But try as I did, I was unsuccessful at La Posta in Panama City where we were greeted with champagne and little eggplant appetizers along with a shot glass of cucumber gazpacho. We had just finished navigating the Panama Canal from Colon, two days of motoring and line-handling rafted up with other sailboats from the World ARC. Being docked in this glistening city and dining in a classic Panamanian restaurant was oh-so civilized! The ambiance of La Posta is elegant and reminiscent of Old Havana – white washed walls, rattan, ceiling fans, palm trees and fine crystal. The gazpacho recipe will be coming soon here on GP, but today I want to take you all to Old Panama with a little bite of, what some people might consider, eggplant bruschetta.

If you can get your hands on the small Italian or Asian eggplants, those with a diameter of about 2 inches, you’re best off. If you can only find globe eggplant, as I did today, you’ll want to cut them all to the same size with a 2″ round cookie cutter or the equivalent in a small plastic, thin rimmed cup.

Eggplanchetta

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Makes 12 appetizers

1 large eggplant
2 medium tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, pressed
2 teaspoons dried hot peppers
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 cup finely grated mozzarella cheese
2/3 cup parmesan cheese
Sprinkle of Thyme, Italian Seasoning or Herbs of Provence

Breading
1 cup flour
2 eggs lightly beaten in a tablespoon of water
1 1/2 cups fine oanko bread crumbs
2 tablespoons parmesan
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 garlic cloves, pressed or 2 teaspoons garlic powder

2-3 tablespoons light olive oil for frying
Sea Salt

Heat your galley oven to 375º-400º. Peel and slice the eggplant into slices less that 1/4″ thick. Salt the slices and place in a colander to “sweat.” This brings out the moisture in the eggplants which is necessary for fried eggplants. After about 20 minutes, sponge off the moisture with paper towels. Some like to rinse the eggplants in water to remove the salt but I personally like to keep the salt on; most of it gets absorbed in the paper towels anyway.

While the eggplants are sweating, prepare your tomato topping and breading. Slice the tomatoes, seed them and chop. Add the salt, hot peppers and pressed garlic and mix through. Set them in a colander to drain (you can probably use the same colander that you just used for the eggplant and have since removed.) It’s important to take as much moisture out of the tomatoes and eggplants as possible so the appetizers do not become too limp.

In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, corn starch and garlic. Mix until well blended. In a second bowl, beat the egg with the water. In the third bowl place the flour

Today I went straight to breading the eggplants, dismissing the “3 part dipping step” of most anything that gets fried…flour, then egg bath, then bread crumbs. Don’t skip that step. It makes a far better coating for a crispy fried eggplant.

Heat up two tablespoons olive oil in a sauté pan over a medium flame. Once hot, fry the breaded eggplants on each side until golden. Place on paper towel to absorb excess grease.

Line a baking sheet with Non-stick Reynold wrap. I use this a lot! It works for all sort of food that would otherwise stick to a pan. Place the drained fried eggplants on the foil-lined baking sheet.

Top each with the tomato mixture, mozzarella and parmesan. Don’t worry about the cheese overflowing, this helps keep the eggplant appetizers firm and not too droopy once they have cooled a bit. Sprinkle a little thyme, Italian Seasoning or Herbs of Provence on top.

Place in the oven and bake until cheese starts to bubble and brown.

Let cool down for 5 minutes before removing them to a platter. Like fresh baked cookies, they may seem soft and limp when first removing them from the pan but will stiffen up as they cool.

Share with your fellow dock mates and enjoy with a little wine or champagne. Cheers!

Eggplanchetta

Similar to bruschetta but using eggplants as the base instead of bread. 

Servings: 12 appetizers
Ingredients
  • 1 Large Eggplant
  • 2 Medium tomatoes
  • 2 Garlic cloves, pressed
  • 2 tsp Dried hot peppers
  • 2 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1 cup Shredded mozzarella
  • 2/3 cup Grated parmesan cheese
  • Sprinkle of Thyme, Italian Seasoning or Herbs of Provence
Breading
  • 1 cup Flour
  • 2 Eggs, lightly beaten with a table of water
  • 1 1/2 cups Fine Panko bread crumbs or regular dried bread crumbs
  • 2 tbsp Grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tsp Cornstarch
  • 2 Garlic cloves, pressed Or 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2-3 tbsp Light olive oil for frying
  • Sea Salt
Instructions
  1. Heat your galley oven to 375º-400º. Peel and slice the eggplant into slices less that 1/4" thick. Salt the slices and place in a colander to "sweat." This brings out the moisture in the eggplants which is necessary for fried eggplants. After about 20 minutes, sponge off the moisture with paper towels or rinse the salt off and towel dry.

  2. While the eggplants are sweating, prepare your tomato topping and breading. Slice the tomatoes, seed them and chop. Add the salt, hot peppers and pressed garlic and mix through. Set them in a colander to drain (you can probably use the same colander that you just used for the eggplant and have since removed.)

  3. In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, corn starch and garlic. Mix until well blended. In a second bowl, beat the egg with the water. In the third bowl place the flour.

  4. Heat up two tablespoons olive oil in a sauté pan over a medium flame. Coat each eggplant slice first in the flour, then dip in the egg mixture, then into the bread crumbs. Place the slices in the hot pan and fry on both sides until golden. About 3 minutes per side depending on the heat of your oil. REmove to a paper towel to absorb excess grease.

  5. Line a baking sheet with Non-stick Reynold wrap. Place the drained fried eggplants on the foil-lined baking sheet.

  6. Top each with the tomato mixture, mozzarella and parmesan. Don't worry about the cheese overflowing, this helps keep the eggplant appetizers firm and not too droopy once they have cooled a bit. Sprinkle a little thyme, Italian Seasoning or Herbs of Provence on top.

  7. Place in the oven and bake until cheese starts to bubble and brown.

  8. Let cool down for 5 minutes before removing them to a platter. Like fresh baked cookies, they may seem soft and limp when first removing them from the pan but will stiffen up as they cool. Serve warm or at room temperature. 

Galley Cooking Recommendations

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