Crispy Cheese Filled Eggplant

(originally made 6/2010)

Around here, Jake and Tim are both veggie haters.    While I've given up on reforming Tim, I'm holding out hope that I can still reach Jake.    Since he does have legitimate sensory issues, any veggie I introduce I try to do it in a way that's positive for him.   He does much better with crunch than soft, so a lot of times that means breading the veggie in question.     He's tried a few bites of breaded eggplant before, super super thin and baked crispy like chips.     When I came across this recipe yesterday, I knew I had to give it a try, because there's one thing the kid does love and that's cheese.

Out of the gate, I knew I wasn't going to use goat cheese.   I am not a fan.   I mixed cream cheese with the garlic, parsley and basil instead, left out the onions, I knew that would set off his alarm system.     No provolone on hand, I went with the part skim mozzarella.    I set up my breading stations, wet in one pie plate and dry in another.   Somehow I overlooked the flour, and I've got to say, it turned out great without it.  

In the end, I had delicious, crispy rounds oozing with cheesy goodness.   And quess what?   Jake wouldn't even try them.   No interest at all.    Sigh.   He did have the required "No thank you bite" and that was it.    

    Crisp Cheese-Filled Eggplant Sandwiches

 Amount  Measure       Ingredient -- Preparation Method
--------  ------------  --------------------------------
                        Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  5          teaspoons  olive oil
  2               cups  panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  2          teaspoons  salt
     1/2      teaspoon  ground black pepper
  1                cup  all purpose flour -- --omitted in error
  1              large  egg
     1/4           cup  water
  1              large  long eggplant -- cut crosswise into sixteen 1/3-inch-thick rounds
     1/2           cup  finely chopped onion -- omitted
  3                     garlic cloves -- minced
  5             ounces  soft fresh goat cheese -- -- used cream cheese
  4             ounces  coarsely grated sharp provolone cheese (about 1 cup) -- -- used part skim mozzarella
  2        tablespoons  chopped fresh parsley -- --used dried
  2        tablespoons  chopped fresh basil -- --used dried
                        Pomegranate molasses -- omitted

Preheat oven to 450°F. Spray 2 large baking sheets with nonstick spray, then brush each with 2 teaspoons olive oil. Mix panko, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in medium bowl. Place flour in another medium bowl. Whisk egg and 1/4 cup water in shallow bowl. Coat each eggplant slice with flour; shake off excess, then dip into egg mixture, allowing excess to drip back into bowl. Coat with panko. Place on prepared sheets. Bake until bottoms are golden brown, turning once, about 12 minutes per side. Cool slightly on sheets. Maintain oven temperature.

Meanwhile, heat 1 teaspoon oil in nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion; sauté 5 minutes. Add garlic; stir 1 minute. Cool slightly. Mix in both cheeses, parsley, and basil. Season with pepper.

Divide cheese mixture among 8 eggplant slices on 1 baking sheet; spread to cover. Top with remaining eggplant, pressing to compact and making 8 sandwiches. Bake until eggplant is crisp, about 15 minutes. Divide sandwiches among 4 plates; drizzle with pomegranate molasses.

Makes 4 servings


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