Sautéed Eggplant, Mozzarella, Tomato and Basil Packets

INGREDIENTS:
2 large eggplant
8 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese
2 plum tomatoes
1 bunch fresh basil
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided

Dressing
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper

METHOD:
Wash the eggplant and remove the ends. Cut the eggplant into 16 equal slices. approximately 1/4 inch thick.
Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil and cook the eggplant about 2 minutes.  Drain the eggplant and place on a towel.

Cut the mozzarella and tomatoes into equal sized slices (approx. 8 slices).

Place one eggplant piece on top of another eggplant piece to form sort of a cross. In the center place a tomato slice, a basil leaf, then a mozzarella slice.  If the eggplant slices are large enough you can double the slices of cheese, tomatoes and basil.

Fold the ends of the eggplant around the cheese, tomato and basil filling to form a neat square packet.  Repeat with the other eggplant slices.

Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, tomato paste and lemon juice.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Heat a non-stick sauté pan and add 3 tablespoons olive oil. Place 2 eggplant packets in the pan with the loose ends down. This will seal the packet.  Sauté for about 2 minutes and then turn the packets over and sauté for another 2 minutes. To assist the cheese in melting, place a lid for the pan to help keep the heat in. Cook remaining packets, adding additional olive oil as needed.

Place finished packets on a serving platter, drizzle the dressing over each packet and enjoy.

YIELD: 4 servings

SOURCE: Recipe courtesy of Chef Owen Snyder of Papa O’s

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