Caponata Charlotte with Goat Cheese and Eggplant Mousse

(10 votes)

1 eggplant
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large eggplant, cut lengthwise in half
olive oil for brushing
salt and freshly ground pepper
cooking oil spray
four 1/2-inch discs goat cheese
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 red onion, cut in 1/2-inch dice
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded, deribbed, and diced
1/2 yellow bell pepper, seeded, deribbed, and diced
2 small zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 celery stalk, stringed and cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 dried apricots, soaked in wine for 2 hours, then diced
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons maple syrup or honey
1 tablespoon raisins, soaked in warm water until plump
3 tablespoon pine nuts
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Eggplant Mousse:
1 large baked eggplant (above)
1/3 cup olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
2 cups basil leaves, stemmed
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 tablespoon pine nuts
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper
pinch of sugar
canola oil for deep frying
12 large basil leaves
2 medium tomatoes, peeled and seeded

To bake the eggplant: Preheat the oven to 350 F. Cut the top off the eggplant and place the whole eggplant on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake 30 minutes, or until tender. Remove from oven and let cool. Set aside until ready to use in the mousse.

To prepare the eggplant: Preheat the oven to 350 F. Place an eggplant half on a cutting surface. Slice lengthwise into narrow 1/4-inch strips. Repeat with remaining eggplant. Place the eggplant slices on a baking sheet and brush them with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and bake 8 minutes, or until tender. Remove from oven and let cool on the sheet. Leave the oven set at 350 F.

Lightly spray four 6-ounce ramekins or molds with cooking oil spray and wipe with a paper towel. Line a ramekin with eggplant strips, letting the strips hang over the sides and overlapping the strips so that no spaces remain between them. Repeat with all ramekins. Set aside.

To prepare the caponata: Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan or skillet over medium-high heat and sauté the onion and garlic for 1 minute. Add the remaining vegetables and apricots. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are softened and beginning to color. Stir in the balsamic vinegar, maple syrup or honey, and the raisins and mix well. Add the pine nuts and season to taste.

Put a half-inch layer of caponata into the eggplant-lined ramekins. Press a slice of goat cheese into the caponata. Top with more caponata and press down gently. Fold the eggplant slices back over the top of the caponata and press to seal. Place on a baking sheet and bake in the previously heated oven, 4 to 5 minutes, until just warmed through.

To prepare the mousse: Cut the baked eggplant in half and scoop out the pulp. Chop the pulp finely. Heat the olive oil in a medium sauté pan or skillet over medium-high heat and sauté the shallot and garlic for 2 to 3 minutes, until softened. Add the smoked paprika, basil, and chopped eggplant. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Season to taste.

To make the pesto: Place all ingredients except the olive oil in a food processor and process until finely chopped. With the machine running, slowly add the oil until the pesto is smooth. Season to taste. Adjust the flavor with sugar if necessary. Put into a squeeze bottle.

To prepare the garnishes: Heat the oil to 370 F in a deep fryer or deep saucepan. Pat the basil leaves completely dry and flash-fry for 15 seconds; remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Cut the tomato flesh into diamond shapes.

To serve: Wrap a ramekin or mold in a warm cloth and shake a little to loosen the eggplant mold, then turn out into the center of a serving plate. With medium-sized spoons, form 12 quenelles from the eggplant mousse and place three around the edge of each plate, at 12 o'clock, 4 o'clock, and 8 o'clock, pointing outward. Squeeze a pool of pesto between each eggplant quenelle. Place tomato diamonds between the pesto pools and quenelles. Garnish the top of the mold with flash-fried basil leaves.

Serves 4

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