Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Grilled Eggplant Napoléons for #CooktheBooks

This round Simona, of Briciole selected our February-March selection. Her announcement post is hereThe Unprejudiced Palate: Classic Thoughts on Food and the Good Life by Angelo M. Pellegrini* is our current Cook the Books read. Submissions are due at the end of the I'm squeaking this post in just before the deadline. Oh, well.

On the Page...
I am truly torn. I read this book in the course of one evening, devouring the Italian food philosophy that I myself embrace since I learned to cook in Rome in the late 90s. 

I love the Italian way of cooking and looking at food: nurture a garden, share well-cooked meals family and friends, and have a passion for ingredients and cooking that nourish the body and the soul. But, simultaneously, I felt more than a little disdain in the author's voice. Like the Anthony Bourdain of his time - remember this book is over half a century old! - Pelligrini struck me as condescending to the audience and critical of this land of plenty. Both of those left me with a sour taste in my mouth.

This was a book that I both loved and loathed.

On the Plate...
So, embracing Pelligrini's philosophy and ignoring the pretentiousness, I decided to go with a simple dish for my family of four that I made with one eggplant, two tomatoes, one round of fresh mozzarella, and some fresh basil leaves. No waste!

Napoléons are typically pastries made of layers of puff pastry and two crème pâtissière layers with a fondant topping. I made a savory equivalent.

Grilled Eggplant Napoléons 

  • 1 large organic eggplant, washed, dried, and sliced into 1/2" steaks
  • salt
  • water
  • balsamic vinegar
  • olive for greasing the pan
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 2 organic tomatoes, cubed - approximately 3/4 C
  • 1 round of fresh mozzarella, cubed - approximately 3/4 C
  • 2 T fresh basil leaves, chopped + more for garnish
  • olive oil

Generously salt the eggplant on both side, laying them on a wire rack over a baking sheet to drain for at least 45 minutes. After the 45 minutes, rinse all of the salt off and place in a baking dish. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and let marinate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F. During the last 10 minutes of marinating, heat a grill pan on the stove - or use a real grill. Oil the pan when hot and place the eggplant steaks on the grill pan. Cook till the eggplant is softened and with distinctive marks, approximately 4 to 5 minutes on each side.

Place grilled eggplant on a baking sheet and in the oven to keep warm until ready to serve.

Toss the tomatoes and mozzarella together in a bowl for a quick caprese salad. Drizzle with olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper.

To serve, lay one grilled eggplant round on your serving plate. Top with caprese and another eggplant round. Finish with another scoop of caprese and garnish with some fresh basil.

Pronto al tavolo!

Next Round...
Deb of Kahakai Kitchen is our next hostess and she has selected Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good by Kathleen Flinn.*

*This blog currently has a partnership with in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to and search for the item of your choice.


I am also linking this post to the March 2016 Foodie Reads Challenge.


  1. I'm with you Camilla! I wanted to throttle the author most of the time, but his food did sound delicious! I love your take on the freshness and no waste!

  2. Hi -- Glad you agree with my negative reaction to the PREJUDICED palate of chauvanist Pelligrini! Funny that my write up was 8 years ago.
    ( )

    best... mae at

    1. Oh, wow! I did read your post and thought - at least I'm not the only one.

  3. You were much kinder towards Pellegrini than I...LOL. I love those eggplant napoleans...what a perfect meatless Monday meal.

    1. Haha. I try not to be TOO judgmental, figuring it was written in another era.

  4. I love grilled eggplant and so love what you made here. It's a good thing this Italian was nowhere near your table, as she can eat a lot of eggplant. Thank you for your contribution to this edition of Cook the Books.

    1. Thanks for hosting. Yes, I did an entire dinner out of eggplant and everything was a hit...even my eggplant and chocolate "cake."

  5. I'm looking forward to trying this, it sounds so good. My trouble with eggplants is I frequently fail to cook it long enough, don't know why that is.

    1. Thanks for stopping by. You can definitely err on the side of cooking too long, versus too short, because they don't really get mushy. Ever.

  6. Lovely aubergine! With mozzarella and tomatoes, what could be nicer?

    1. Thanks, Alicia. Yes, we LOVE eggplant, tomatoes, and eggplant.

  7. Really lovely dish. Very rustic and Tuscan!

  8. I think a lot of us had similar feelings about loving the philosophy but not liking the delivery. ;-) I love the simple elegance of your savory Napoléons Camilla and they are just stunning on the plate. I could happily make this my dinner.

    1. Right?!?! Yes, I could have shot the messenger. This has been dinner a few times already.

  9. I've been trying to make eggplant napoleons with little success. Maybe your approach holds the key!


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