April 21, 2011 § 4 Comments
Why these are called Napoleons, I’m not sure. Maybe because they are short squat layered stacks. I’m almost positive it wasn’t because the guy had a tasty complexity of flavors. In my book, these take the victory.
Here’s the idea: Layers of eggplant, ricotta and asparagus. Simple. Delightful. And they do have a mysteriously complex flavor, thanks to grilling.
Giada DeLaurentis, aka food porn queen, made these in a recent show. The recipe is easy enough to recreate. Just a warning, these require some grilling. We have one of those indoor grills that you plug in AND a 16-in. All-Clad grill pan. We used both at the same time for these.
Eggplant Asparagus Napoleons
(gives you 4 short stacks)
- 1 medium eggplant, sliced into 1/2-in. slices, at least 12
- asparagus – about 12 stalks
- 3-4 tbs freshly chopped thyme
- salt/pepper to taste
- ricotta cheese, about 2 cups
- 1/2 lemon
-Set oven to 200F-250F
-Put about two cups of ricotta in a medium bowl. Add about half of the chopped thyme and squeeze in the juice of half a lemon. Stir to incorporate. Set aside.
-Put eggplant slices in a big bowl. Dowse with olive oil, sprinkle with two big pinches of kosher salt, a couple of twists of pepper, and the remaining chopped thyme. Get your hands in there (or use tongs) and make sure it is all evenly coated. The eggplant will suck up the oil – that’s okay, don’t overdo it.
-Set indoor grill or grill pan or maybe even your outdoor grill to medium and let it heat up. Place 12 eggplant slices on the grill – reserve the bowl they were in. If it looks like some of the slices missed a bit of oil, take some olive oil and a brush and brush them up a bit. Let them grill up on that side for a few minutes.
-Meanwhile, chop the woody parts off your asparagus. Place in that bowl, add a touch of olive oil, salt and pepper. You can grill these up in a separately as I did, or you can wait until your eggplant is done.
-Speaking of eggplant, check to see how the undersides are coming along. When they get golden grill marks on the bottom, flip ’em over. Maybe some of the ones you just turned over need another wash of oil. Your decision. Give them another couple of minutes to grill up – just take them off before they get limp and burned.
-Grill up the asparagus on medium. It won’t take as long as the eggplant. Move them to get all sides as best you can. 4-5 minutes max. You don’t want them wimpy; pick one up and hold it sideways – it shouldn’t sag. Place them on cutting board when done and chop them in half.
-Here’s the assembly part: On a baking sheet place four slices of eggplant. Spoon on a dollop of the ricotta – not too much, just enough to cover the slice but don’t spread it thinly either like butter on toast. Now add three asparagus sections on top of the ricotta. Add another layer of eggplant. More ricotta. Another three sections of asparagus. Now top it off with eggplant. You should have yourself a nice short stack.
-Pop the baking sheet in the warm oven for about 10 minutes or so – enough time to bring everything up to temperature.
Use one napoleon as a side dish or use two as a meal and serve with some sort of protein. I made a side of quinoa with roasted cherry tomatoes and shallots.