Eggplant Sandwiches on Baby Greens with Tomato-Balsamic Vinaigrette

2 medium eggplants, cut into 12 1-inch thick slices
1/4 cup olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 pound mozzarella cheese, cut into 6 slices
1/2 cup loosely packed basil leaves
1-1/2 cups panko bread crumbs (japanese) or other dry breadcrumbs
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
1 cup all purpose flour
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
vegetable oil for frying
3 cups savory baby greens, such as arugula, frisee, red mustard,
flowering kale and spinach
Tomato-Balsamic Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
Garnish: Deep fried capers and rosemary leaves
Tomato-Balsamic Vinaigrette
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
2/3 cup tomato juice
1/4 cup olive oil (preferably extra virgin)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons minced sun-dried tomatoes (rehydrated or oil-packed)
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Lightly brush both sides of the eggplant slices with the oil and season with salt and pepper. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast until lightly brown and tender, about 20 minutes.

Arrange the mozzarella slices on 6 of the eggplant slices. On a cutting board, coarsely chop the basil and sprinkle over the cheese. Top with a second eggplant slice to form a sandwich.

In a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs and walnuts. Dredge the sandwiches in flour, patting off excess. Dip them in the beaten egg and then in the breadcrumb mixture. The sandwiches may be prepared up to this point and kept loosely covered in the refrigerator for up to 8 hours. Add vegetable oil to a sauté pan to a depth of 1/2 inch. Heat oil to 350 degrees. In batches, sauté the sandwiches in a single layer, turning once to brown both sides. This will take only a few minutes per side. As they are done, remove to paper towels to drain. Keep warm. These sandwiches may be cooked up to 4 hours in advance and reheated in the oven at serving time.

To serve, toss the greens with a little of the vinaigrette and serve the hot eggplant sandwiches on a bed of the lightly dressed greens. Scatter with deep fried capers and rosemary leaves, if desired. Serve immediately.

For the Vinaigrette:
In a small bowl, whisk together all ingredients, seasoning to taste. Allow to stand at least 1 hour before using. Store any unused dressing, covered and refrigerated, up to 10 days.



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