Baked Eggplant and Manchego Cheese with Fresh Oregano and Balsamic Glaze

September 8, 2014
Summer, Brunch, Lunch, Fall, Healthy, Vegetables, Mediterranean

Bobby says: "This recipe was on the menu of my restaurant Bolo for many years and was always a best seller so it only seemed natural that it would make an appearance on the menu at Gato where it continues to be the most ordered item on the menu. This makes an excellent vegetarian entrée with its creamy cheese, rich balsamic glaze and meaty tasting and textured eggplant, but it could also be served as a salad course to start off any meal."

Serves: 4

2 cups balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
¼ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
3 medium Globe eggplants, sliced ¼-inch thick (you will need 12 equal slices)
½ cup pure canola oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces coarsely grated Manchego cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh oregano leaves
Oregano leaves, for garnish
Calabrian chile oil, for garnish

1. Put the balsamic vinegar in a medium saucepan over high heat and cook until reduced to ½ cup (watch our video on reducing balsamic here). Stir in the honey and ¼ teaspoon of coarsely ground black pepper and transfer to a bowl. The glaze can be made 2 days in advance and refrigerated and brought to room temperature before using.

2. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Brush both sides of the eggplant with oil and season with salt and pepper. Put the eggplant on a baking sheets in an even layer and bake until lightly golden brown and soft, turning once, about 20 minutes.

3. Remove pan from the oven and divide the cheese over 8 of the eggplant slices and top the cheese with the chopped oregano. Stack the eggplant slices to make four 2-layer stacks and top each stack with the remaining eggplant slices. Return the baking sheet to the oven and bake eggplant a few minutes longer, until the cheese has melted.

4. Remove the stacks to a large dinner plate and drizzle with some of the balsamic glaze and garnish with some of the chopped oregano and chile oil.