Grilled Eggplant, Roasted Tomatoes and Burrata with Garlic-Herb Breadcrumbs

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I told you this was the week of summer food: eggplant, tomatoes, basil, peaches…all happening on the blog this week.

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This is a super-light vegetarian main dish that is quick to make and tastes incredible.  So summery and fresh, even if you don’t like eggplant!  I made this awhile back after seeing it on Nerds with Knives; I was so taken by the photo that I knew it would be coming out of my kitchen VERY soon.

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It’s a beautiful dish to serve because the colors are striking: stark white burrata against golden grilled eggplant, deep red tomatoes and fresh basil.

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It’s super simple to make too; you’ll essentially roast some tomatoes in the oven and while those are cooking, grill eggplant (either indoors on a grill pan or outside if you want!) and make a quick garlicky breadcrumb topping.

My mom said the breadcrumbs are vital to the recipe-she even went so far as to say she wouldn’t have liked it without them!  They add a necessary crunch and tons of flavor to the finished dish; without them, it would be a lot of soft, dare I say geriatric-type, textures.

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Roasting the tomatoes with a little olive oil, garlic, balsamic vinegar and a sprinkle of sugar (if they need them) intensifies the flavor and brings out all the sweetness tomatoes have to give us.  Try to use a mix of cherry tomatoes and slightly larger Campari (or similar) tomatoes.

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I have a secret: you could probably make this all year if you wanted to…cherry tomatoes are basically sweet and delicious all year and eggplant and basil are in stores year-round now.  As long as we don’t go through a burrata shortage (I’m shuddering at the thought), you can make this any time you need a taste of summer in the dead of winter.

*But definitely eat in season when you can!

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GRILLED EGGPLANT, ROASTED TOMATOES AND BURRATA WITH GARLIC-HERB BREADCRUMBS

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Inspiration: Grilled Eggplant, Roasted Tomatoes and Burrata Cheese with Garlic Herb Breadcrumbs on nerdswithknives.com

 

INGREDIENTS 

1-1/2 pounds cherry tomatoes

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Sprinkle of granulated sugar

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

5 large garlic cloves, 4 crushed and 1 finely minced, divided

3 medium eggplants (about 3 pounds)

Olive oil, as needed

1-1/2 cups (about 4 ounces) fresh breadcrumbs (high-quality white bread pulsed into coarse crumbs in the food processor)

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1/4 cup (1 ounce) freshly grated Parmesan cheese

8 ounces burrata cheese, drained and dried

 

INSTRUCTIONS

For the roasted tomatoes: Preheat the oven to 375°.  Place the tomatoes and the crushed garlic cloves in a roasting dish.  Toss with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sugar and salt and pepper.  Roast, gently stirring a few times throughout the cooking process, until the tomatoes are soft and begin to split, about 30 to 40 minutes.  Remove from the oven and set aside.

For the eggplant: Preheat a grill pan or outdoor grill over high heat.  Cut off the top and bottom of the eggplant and slice the eggplant into 1/2-inch-thick rounds.  Brush both sides of the eggplant with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  When the grill has preheated, cook the eggplant until tender and golden but not falling apart, about 3 to 5 minutes per side.  Remove from the grill to a plate and cover loosely with foil.

In the meantime, heat a small skillet over medium heat; add 3 tablespoons olive oil and the minced garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add the fresh breadcrumbs and cook, stirring often, until the crumbs are golden brown and crisp, about 4 minutes.  Transfer the breadcrumbs to a small mixing bowl and stir in the basil, parsley and Parmesan cheese.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Layer the eggplant on a large serving platter.  Top with the tomatoes; pull the burrata into pieces and arrange on top.  Sprinkle the garlic-herb breadcrumbs all over the top.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

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