As soon as I made this dish, I looked at the end result and thought, "It's a Whoopie Pie!" As I dearly adore them, this added to the pleasure of eating this dish, so I'll always think of this as eggplant Whoopie Pie. I enjoyed this recipe, as did my husband. However, he said that it reminded him of a souffle, and he's not crazy about them. So, he liked it, but it wasn't substantial enough for him. I loved it (I like souffles). This was very quick to make. In fact, have everything ready because once you start cooking, it all goes like the wind.
The dish has great contrasting tastes of sweet tomato sauce, crunchy panko crust, soft eggplant and creamy goat cheese. The tomato sauce has the surprise seasoning of tarragon, rather than the expected sweet basil. It adds a sweet anise flavor that makes the dish distinctive. Of course, you could substitute the basil, but I will always make this with the tarragon. I offer this wonderful recipe for Weekend Herb Blogging, which was created by the amazing Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen. This week WHB is being hosted by one of my favorite bloggers, Susan at Food Blogga. Go to her excellent site and see the Roundup of herby recipes by bloggers around the world.
This is a very fast, simple dish to make. Have everything assembled and keep a steady eye on the eggplant as you fry it. It browns quickly, barely 1 minute per side. I came periously close to having my skillet catch on fire when oil splashed onto the burner, as I laid in a breaded eggplant slice. But, why not a little drama? It was worth it.
By the way, is it spelled Whoopee or Whoopie Pie? (Because it's very important to know.)
Eggplant and Goat-Cheese Sandwiches with Tomato Tarragon Sauce
(Food & Wine)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
3 cups fresh or canned crushed tomatoes in thick puree (one 28-ounce can)
1 teaspoon fresh tarragon
1- 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
1 cup dry bread crumbs (I used plain Panko)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
2 eggplants, peeled and cut to make sixteen 1/2-inch-thick slices in all
4 eggs, beaten to mix
Cooking oil, for frying
1/2 pound mild goat cheese, such as Montrachet, cut into 8 rounds
1. In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over moderately low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, tarragon, 3/4 teaspoon of the salt, and the sugar and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 25 minutes. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper.
2. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 350°. In a medium bowl, combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
3. Dip each slice of eggplant in the eggs and then in the bread-crumb mixture, coating well. In a large frying pan, heat about half an inch of cooking oil over moderate heat until very hot. Fry the eggplant in the hot oil, in batches, turning once, until golden and cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels.
4. Arrange half of the eggplant slices in a single layer on a baking sheet. Put a slice of goat cheese on top of each and then top with the remaining eggplant slices. Bake until the cheese melts, about 10 minutes. Put the sauce on plates and top with the eggplant.