Purses? On a food blog? Yes! Purses!
No, I’m not talking about Prada or Coach. However, these purses are handcrafted Italian perfection! With each pocket of pleasure comes a burst of flavor from the basil mozzarella combination.
I love to play with food. I think most of us do. We just don’t realize we are playing but when you are rolling sushi or stuffing peppers, don’t you feel like you’re playing? Well, I do! That’s why I like interesting food. You know, stackable food or food that you build. I use food molds all the time to create height on the plate. Molds allow you to stack your
ingredients. But we are not stacking here, we are building. Yes, we are building a purse. The eggplant is the material and the mozzarella and basil are the liners. No sewing needles needed and believe me, you will not need to contact your marketing department. These won’t last long and you won’t find them on 5th Avenue but if you can find a medium sized eggplant at your local grocery or farm stand, you can find them on your avenue.
1 medium eggplant
Olive oil, for brushing
1 mozzarella ball
8 basil leaves
2 tbsp olive oil
2 15oz cans of tomatoes, diced
4 large garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
To slice the eggplant, cut off the stem. Then cut off about a 1/4 inch of the bottom. Stand the eggplant on a cutting board and slice off about a 1/4 inch of each side. Then slice the eggplant into 1/4 inch slices. My eggplant was a little on the large size so I ended up with 8 slices.
Place the eggplant slices on several layers of paper towels, and press out water.
Preheat a grill or grill pan over medium-high heat.
Generously brush both sides of eggplant slices with oil.
Place on grill, and cook until browned, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from grill.
Cut each slice of eggplant into two pieces lengthwise. Set aside.
Cut the mozzarella ball into 1 1/2 inch cubes.
With two of the eggplant slices, create an “X” by laying one slice on top of the other.
Place one cube of mozzarella in the center of the “X” and top it with one basil leaf.
Wrap the basil mozzarella cube with the eggplant by lifting the bottom right piece of the eggplant slice up and over the basil. Then lift the bottom left piece of the eggplant up and over the basil. Then lift the remaining piece of sliced eggplant up and over the basil just as you did before. This process completely wraps the mozzarella and basil and creates a “purse”.
Repeat the process until you have used all your pieces of eggplant. Set the purses aside.
To make the gravy, heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute, just until the garlic becomes fragrant.
Add the tomatoes and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and ladle half of the gravy into an 8 x 8 baking dish.
Place the eggplant purses, seam side down, on top of the gravy. Ladle the remaining gravy over the purses.
Bake for approximately 20 minutes until the dish is bubbly.
Carefully transfer the eggplant purses to a serving platter and ladle any remaining gravy in the baking dish over the purses.
Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve.