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Main Dishes - Vegetarian Bon Appetit
Eggplant 2/1/1997


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Servings: 4 servings

From the Rumpus restaurant in San Francisco.

1 14 can chopped seeded peeled tomatoes with juices
2 tablespoons olive oil

4 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup (packed) freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 3 ounces)
cup ( stick) butter
Pinch of cayenne pepper

of a large eggplant cut crosswise into four -inch-thick slices
Coarse salt
1 large zucchini, cut diagonally into -inch-thick slices
Additional olive oil
4 large fresh basil leaves
4 -inch-thick slices mozzarella cheese
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Puree tomatoes in blender. Strain into heavy small saucepan. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium; simmer tomatoes until reduce to cup, about 10 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and simmer 5 minutes to blend flavors. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.

Combine 4 cups water and 1 teaspoon salt in heavy medium saucepan. Bring to boil. Gradually whisk in the cornmeal. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until polenta is very thick, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Add Parmesan and butter and stir until melted. Mix in cayenne pepper. Spread polenta in a 9-inch square pan. Refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour. (Sauce and polenta can be made 1 day ahead. Cover separately and refrigerate.)

Sprinkle eggplant slices with coarse salt. Let stand 30 minutes. Pat dry. Meanwhile, prepare barbecue (medium-high heat) or preheat broiler. Brush eggplant and zucchini with oil. Season with salt and pepper. Grill or broil until tender, about 2 minutes per side.

Final Assembly
Preheat oven to 375F. Lightly oil large baking sheet. Using eggplant as a template, cut polenta into 4 rounds (or shape into rounds). Place rounds on prepared baking sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes. Remove; turn polenta rounds over. Top each with eggplant, 2 zucchini slices, basil leaf and mozzarella slice. Bake eggplant stacks until cheese melts and begins to brown, about 15 minutes. Transfer to plates. Rewarm sauce. Spoon around eggplant stacks. Sprinkle with chopped basil and serve.

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