Italian Vegetarian Recipes: Tomino & Fried Eggplant Towers

Towers served on a bed of greens and topped with a dollop of spicy cream cheese

Towers served on a bed of greens and topped with a dollop of spicy cream

I grew up eating fried eggplant pretty regularly, thanks to my aunt Joan (who would dust the fried slices with grated parmesan cheese–yum). Cut thicker, and fried until very crisp, eggplant slices make for nice ‘building blocks’ of other creations. Here they are the foundation for what I dubbed ‘tomino towers’.

Ingredients for 2 people

(note: one serving is comprised of one fried eggplant slice and one tomino round. You can multiply this recipe as much as you like)

1 large eggplant, sliced thick and fried (instructions below)
batter (flour, 1 egg, milk, carbonated water, 1 ice cube)
breadcrumbs
oil for frying
2 tomini cheese rounds, grilled (instructions below)
salad greens
1/2 cup (about 125 grams) crème fraîche or sour cream
hot pepper sauce or ground chili powder
dried herbs such as herbes de Provence for garnishing

Instructions

Arrange the salad greens on a serving platter. Add a couple dashes of hot pepper sauce, or alternatively a pinch of chili powder, to the cream, blend well and keep in fridge until a five minutes prior to serving.

For the eggplant: Prepare the batter. Slice the fattest part of the eggplant 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick rounds. Batter well and lay onto a plate of bread crumbs. Coat both sides generously. Heat the oil of your choice in a large pan. Fry the rounds until they are medium-dark and very crispy, keeping a good eye on the color as they fry, since you only want to turn them once. Transfer to paper towels and lightly salt while still hot. When they have cooled slightly arrange them on top of the salad greens.

Cook the tomini in a grooved, grill-like pan that has been oiled and heated. Cook for about 2 minutes on each side, turning them only once  with a sturdy spatula. The tomini are ready when they begin to bubble and are visibly melting. Transfer each immediately while still hot to the eggplant slices round. Garnish with a dollop of the spicy cream and dried herbs.

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