These later summer veggie appetizers will keep you coming back for more. Pan-fried eggplant slices topped with a delicious, spicy tomato jam then mozzarella, baked, and topped with a fresh basil leaf.
Ginger Tomato Jam
1 pound fresh or canned Roma tomatoes peeled, cored, seeded, and coarsely chopped
¾ cup sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1 Anaheim pepper, stemmed, seeded and minced
Combine all ingredients in a heavy medium saucepan, Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until mixture has the consistency of thick jam, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Can be made a week ahead. Keep refrigerate, bring to room temperature when ready to use.
2 long thin Japanese eggplant cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
⅓ cup cornstarch
1 large egg
½ teaspoon coarse salt plus additional for sprinkling the eggplant
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
Grapeseed or Canola oil for deep-frying
Place a cooling rack inside a sheet tray.
Lightly sprinkle salt over the eggplant slices and place salt side down on paper towels to remove excess water. Sprinkle salt over the top and cover with paper towels pressing lightly to remove excess water.
Add into three separate shallow dishes: the cornstarch mixed with ⅛ teaspoon salt, the egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, and the panko bread crumbs mixed with ½ teaspoon of salt. Dredge each eggplant slice in the cornstarch, coating it thoroughly and shaking off the excess. Next, coat it with the egg mixture and then dredge it in the breadcrumbs, pressing on the crumbs to make them adhere. Transfer the eggplant on to the cooling rack that is over the sheet tray and let it dry slightly. In a deep heavy skillet, heat ½ inch of oil until shimmering and 375°F.
Sauté the eggplant slices in batches in the oil for 2 minutes on each side, or until they are golden brown. Transfer to paper towels to drain any excess oil. Line a sheet tray with parchment paper and move the eggplant over to the parchment paper. Make about 18-24 slices.
½ pound of fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced and cut to fit the top of the eggplant slices
18-24 fresh basil leaves
Preheat the broiler on high. Place the eggplant rounds on a parchment-lined sheet tray. Top with 1-1/2 to 2 teaspoons of tomato jam, and a thin slice of mozzarella cheese. Place under the broiler to just melt the cheese. Remove and top immediately with a basil leaf and serve.