RECIPES: Recipe Details

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East meets West

This recipe is based on a family favorite of ours: marinated eggplants (marinated after the sliced eggplant is sauteed). It is also based on a favorite nut that is often used in the middle east: pine nuts. Originally I prepared the recipe with Zaatar, but as I found that this is not present in your "average well stocked" supermarket, I replaced the Zaatar with basil and sage, and it worked very well. I then found that we prefer the marinated eggplant when fire roasted first, instead of sauteed, which gives me ideas for several other recipes!!

Ingredients 

1. 1 medium eggplant
2. 1 Vidalia onion
3. Salt
4. 1/2 cup fresh chopped basil
5. 4 cloves fresh garlic chopped through a garlic press
6. 3 cups Colavita balsamic vinegar
7. 4 cups Sutter Home Cabernet Sauvignon
8. Colavita extra virgin olive oil
9. One cup pine nuts Cumin
10. 2 cups fresh cilantro (finely chopped)
11. 1 cup chopped sage
- 1 cup chopped basil (see #4)
- 3 cloves fresh garlic chopped through a garlic press (see #5)
12. Salt
13. 2 large tomatoes
14. 1 ball fresh mozzarella
15. 2 pounds ground beef (85% lean, half round, half chuck)
16. 2 loafs Ciabatta bread

Instructions 

1) Marinated Eggplant Slice the eggplant diagonally into ¼ inch thick slices. Save the 6 slices that have the least amount of skin and sprinkle both sides of each slice with salt. Let the sliced eggplant rest between two layers of paper towels for 20 minutes. Brush a medium-hot grill with the vegetable oil. Dab the eggplant dry and roast the sliced eggplant over the oiled hot grill: 5-7 minutes on each side, and then another 5-7 minutes on each side, rotating the slices 45 degrees so as to get a nice pattern of the grill on the slices. Remove the eggplant from the grill and allow it to cool for 10 minutes. Mix the marinade in a small bowl, except for the olive oil: Add ½ cup fresh basil (chopped) and 4 cloves of garlic (pressed) to 3 cups of Colavita balsamic vinegar and 4 cups Sutter Home Cabernet Sauvignon. Dip each slice of the eggplant in the marinade and then sprinkle some oil on it. Place the slices of eggplant in a bowl and cover with marinade. Slice the onion into thin slices (2-3 mm) and place the rings in the marinade. 2) Pine-Nut-and-Spice Mix In a small fireproof skillet on a medium heat grill, sauté the pine nuts in 3 tablespoons Colavita extra virgin olive oil until very light brown. Add the crushed garlic (3 cloves) and continue sautéing until the pine nuts are light brown. Add 2 teaspoons cumin. Continue sautéing until the pine nuts are brown. Allow the mixture to cool and add it to a food processor together with 2 cups finely chopped cilantro, 1-teaspoon cumin, the basil (1 cup finely chopped) and sage (1 cup finely chopped) and 1.5-teaspoons salt. Start the food processor briefly to coarsely chop the pine nuts. Do not over chop the pine nut 3) Toppings Slice 2 balls of mozzarella into 6 slices of about 1/2 inch thick. Slice 2 large tomatoes into 12 thin slices. Cover sliced mozzarella and tomatoes with plastic wrap. 4) Patties In a bowl, lightly mix the pine-nut-and-spice mix and 2 pounds 85% lean ground beef. Do not overmix. Form 6 patties about 1-1 ½ inch thick. Add coals to the grill. Brush the hot grill with the vegetable oil. Place the patties on a medium-high heat grill for 3-4 minutes on each side, cooking each side twice, rotating the patties so as to get a diamond pattern on the meat. After each time you flip the burgers, brush them with the marinade. Slice the bread into 6 pieces and slice each piece into 2 layers. During the last 5-7 minutes of grilling the meat, place on the grill: face down. Toast the buns for 5-7 minutes. Remove the bread and patties from the grill. 5) Assemble the Burger On 6 toasted bread layers, place the following items in the following order: two tomato slices, a dash of salt, ½ teaspoons of the marinade 1 slice mozzarella dipped in the marinade 1 hamburger patty, brushed with the marinade and 1 slice marinated eggplant including sliced onions. Cover with the other 6 toasted half-buns and serve.

Comments 

Adding fresh dill and the juice of a lime to the marinade adds more flavor - but exceeds the 16 ingredients. The eggplants keeps well in the fridge, so we usually prepare 2-3 eggplants and keep the marinated eggplant for sandwiches with feta cheese (which works well in the recipe as well - but my taste testers told me is a tad too sharp for the American palate when the eggplant is also on board).