Mediterranean food holds a romantic spot in my heart, especially as autumn crawls back into my life. Every year for the last fifteen years of my life, September has sparked a near beginning in the fire of my life, heart, and head. It's astonishing to realize that this is my first September when I don't have to get up at 6am to rush to the bus and see if the bus driver may or may not drive by me on a frigid morning or casually stroll in five minutes late to my horrible college math class spilling coffee every second down the stairs. This September has been about finding me and fulfilling dreams and goals I didn't even know existed in my brain. But the most amazing part is that I'm finally doing something for me, by me. No one to tell me when to wake up, where to be, or how to be. For me, as a creative, free spirit, nothing has ever felt better. This recipe is to thank my mother for the overkill of support for this last month and well, for my whole life really. Not many kids can say growing up, they used to eat feta cheese and bacon at 11am in their mom's greek restaurant. She always inspires me in my darkest moments and I never thought she would push me to quit my job and take this giant leap into me becoming me. You're my number one investor and my number one fan, so thanks forever.
This recipe is a knock out for a dinner party or fancy sunday supper. It is a simple recipe with complex flavors that can be thrown together in 20 minutes. Fried feta cheese became an obsession of mine a year ago when I made it in Culinary school. It's so easy, but so delightfully creamy and crispy. The vinaigrette is extremely zesty and bright. Honestly you could even just whip that together for an arugula salad. Either way, this recipe is sure to impress!
Mediterranean Eggplant, Fried Feta, and Tomato Stack with Lemon Garlic Vinaigrette
Yields: 4 appetizer portions
// Stack //
- 3 dancer variety eggplant, sliced 1/4 inch thickness
- 3 small or medium yellow tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thickness
- 1 small black of feta cheese, sliced 1/4 inch thickness
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 3/4 cup of all purpose flour; gluten free alternative
- 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
- 1/2 ounce of fresh rosemary finely chopped
// Vinaigrette //
- 1/8 cup of olive oil
- 2 lemons, juice and zest
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon of pepper
- 2 tablespoons of raw organic honey
- 1 ounce of fresh rosemary
- Place all ingredients for the vinaigrette in a food processor and blend for 2 minutes. If you are food processor-less, finely mince the garlic and rosemary. Whisk together everything except for the lemon juice. Slowly drizzle in the lemon juice, so that your vinaigrette will not separate. Set aside.
- Now we are going to assemble our flour for dredging. Mix the pepper, salt, and rosemary into the flour. Pour the flour in a shallow dish for optimal coating. Dip the eggplant and feta into the flour.
- Utilizing a grill pan, turn your heat to medium. Brush the pan with olive oil and place the eggplant slices in the pan. To create the gorgeous grill marks your goal should be to only flip them once, so allow them to cook on either side for 3 minutes.
- While the eggplant is cooking, heat up the olive oil over medium high heat in a separate medium skillet. You can test the oil by flicking a bit of flour in it to see if it sizzles. Once heated, reduce the heat to medium to avoid burning. Place the feta in the pan. Cook until golden brown on either side. This will take about 3 minutes total.
- Lay both the eggplant and cheese onto a paper towel when done for excess oil to cling to.
- To assemble the stack, position a piece of eggplant on the plant followed by the feta and a slice of tomato. Repeat this layering four times for one stack. The vinaigrette can be drizzled around the dish and garnished with your favorite herbs or my choice, microgreens.