What’s For Dinner?
Eggplant Montasio - from Sugo Restaurant and Tapas
(First star is lowest, fourth star is highest)
FROM THE MENU OF . . . SUGO
408 S. Atlanta St.. Roswell
Q: I was blown away by Sugo's Eggplant Montasio appetizer at the Taste of Alpharetta. I hope you can persuade them to share the recipe with us.
-- Cindy Scharfnorth, Alpharetta
A: Sugo owner Frederico Castellucci was so enthusiastic in his description of the care that goes into making this signature dish, it made us want to rush out and try it. Twice-baked eggplant is garnished with fresh tomato-basil sauce and topped with four cheeses.
Hands on time: 30 minutes Total time: 45 minutes Serves: 8
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup Pecorino-Romano cheese, divided
2 cups Progresso Italian-style bread crumbs
1 eggplant, peeled and sliced into 1/8-inch thick slices
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup high quality tomato-basil sauce
8 ounces aged provolone, very thinly sliced
8 ounces montasio or fontina cheese, very thinly sliced
24 basil leaves, tough center stems removed
8 ounces fresh buffalo mozzarella, very thinly sliced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
In a bowl, lightly beat eggs and half-and-half. In a separate bowl, combine 1/2 cup Pecorino-Romano cheese and bread crumbs. Dip eggplant in flour, then in egg wash and then in bread crumb mixture. Place eggplant on baking sheets and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, turning eggplant midway through baking. The eggplant should be brown and crispy on both sides. Remove from oven. If necessary, drain any excess oil from pan. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees.
Top each eggplant slice with about 2 teaspoons tomato sauce, a teaspoon of remaining Pecorino-Romano, a slice of provolone, a thin slice of montasio or fontina cheese, a basil leaf and a slice of fresh mozzarella. Return to oven and bake for 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Remove from oven, place on serving platter and sprinkle with remaining Pecorino cheese and drizzle with olive oil.
Castellucci recommends seeking out "male" eggplants, which have fewer seeds and are less likely to be bitter. To differentiate between male and female eggplants, inspect the flower end. The male has a small, round, smooth end; the female has an irregular, less smooth end.