Eggplant, Mozzarella, and Spicy Tomato Jam on Puff Pastry

I’m filing this as another post under “Travel for Food” since this recipe is inspired by a dish I recently had while traveling with my husband and friends to St. Martin. If you’ve never been before, I highly recommend going. It has unbelievable beaches and is a food lover’s paradise. Half of the island is Dutch, and the other half is French. They both have fantastic food options, but the French side boasts some seriously legit French restaurants. We all went out for a big dinner one night, which is where I ran into this dish. Each layer is so superb, and tastes delicious all together.

If the food isn’t enough and you need some convincing to go to St. Martin, btw, this might help:

Back to the food. This dish is ideal as an appetizer or packed in your picnic basket. You could also include all of the ingredients on a cheese plate and have people make them themselves. For the base, I used the “rough-puff pastry” recipe from Gordon Ramsay, since I figured he knew what he was doing. This was my first attempt at puff pastry, and it came out great! I was so surprised at how easy this is. One weekend I’m going to make a double or triple batch of this and freeze some. For this recipe, I made the full amount of the dough, but froze half. To make the dough, you first mix it all together, chill it, roll it out, fold it up, chill it, then do it one more time. You want to make sure it’s pretty chilled by the time you are ready to bake. Be careful that you don’t overwork or over-flour the dough. You want it nice and crumbly!

When the dough is ready, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Roll out the dough until about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick and cut into even squares. If you want them pretty, brush with an egg wash (1 egg plus 1 tablespoon of water) or melted butter. Bake squares for 5-8 minutes, or until golden brown.

The next layer is fresh mozzarella. I thought about making this homemade as well, but ended up just getting some high quality mozzarella from Whole Foods. The Pioneer Woman has a tutorial if you’re feeling ambitious, or else just use the best kind you can get. The third layer is the eggplant. At the restaurant they also had some pureed roasted eggplant, but I just doubled up on the roasted eggplant for ease and for flavor.

To make the eggplant layer, thinly slice one small or medium eggplant, either with a very sharp knife or mandoline. Place slices in a colander and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Let it drain in a sink for 5-10 minutes, or until you can see that the eggplant has “sweated” out some of the liquid. Place the slices on a tray, spray with olive oil spray or rub lightly with olive oil, sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon each of salt, pepper and garlic powder. Roast in a 375 degree oven for 5-10 minutes, or until cooked through and the edges are turning lightly brown, then let them cool.

The final layer, the piece de resistance, was the spicy tomato jam. I used this recipe, with some edits. For the purpose of this appetizer, I cut the recipe into a fourth. It still makes a little more than you need, but you can save the rest to make with a grilled cheese, mix into some pasta. etc. To make the jam, first place 3/4 to one pound of tomatoes in a small to medium pot and pour 4 cups of boiling water over the tomatoes. Cover and let sit for 6-8 minutes, or until the skin looks like it’s starting to peel off. Take tomatoes out and cool (in ice water if you’re in a hurry), and peel off the skins.

Pulse the tomatoes in a food processor to desired consistency. Remember that they will break down more in the jam, so if you want it chunky you don’t want to pulse it too much.

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In a small bowl or cup, whisk together 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, a little less than 1/4 teaspoon each of ground mustard, cumin, smoked paprika, garlic, and cayenne pepper. In the small or medium saucepan, combine 1/4 cup cider vinegar, 1/4 cup apple juice, 1/2 cup brown sugar, and spices. Heat until sugar is dissolved and stir in the tomatoes.

Bring the mixture to a boil; reduce to low heat and simmer for 15-30 minutes, until desired consistency. I don’t show this part, but about halfway through I squeezed in half of a lemon. Make sure to keep stirring so it doesn’t burn! The tomato jam is sweet and spicy, although next time I think I’ll kick up the spices even more. Feel free to play around.

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Now, to put it all together:

First, the puff pastry:

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Next, the mozzarella:

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Third, the eggplant:

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Finally, the tomato jam!

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Yummmmm.

Now…time for a pop quiz: are cats allergic to tomatoes? The answer: inconclusive. I couldn’t find a definitive answer online, and there are contradictions on the ones that are usually reliable. So, for now, maybe just don’t give your cat tomatoes.

And finally, the recipe:

Eggplant, Mozzarella, and Spicy Tomato Jam on Puff Pastry

The recipe below makes nine squares, each of which is a sizable serving. I made this for just two people, so we ate it over a couple days, and used the puff pastry to eat with other meals, so feel free to play around. The spicy tomato jam recipe is adapted from allrecipes.com.

Ingredients

For the eggplant:

1 medium eggplant, sliced thinly
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper

For the Spicy Tomato Jam (this makes about 1/2 – 3/4 cup, and a little goes a long way):

3/4 pound tomatoes (I used roma)
4 cups boiling water
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons apple juice
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
A little less than 1/4 teaspoon each of ground mustard, ground cumin, ground smoked (or regular) paprika, cayenne pepper, and garlic
1/2 lemon

For the remainder:

One sheet puff pastry (I used half of this recipe)

Fresh mozzarella (At least an 8 ounce tub, if not more. You could also use one of those logs and cut it, although the type swimming in brine tastes far better)

Instructions

1. To make the tomato jam, pour boiling water over tomatoes in a small pot and let sit, covered, for 6-8 minutes, or until the skin looks like it’s starting to peel off. Take tomatoes out and cool (in ice water if you’re in a hurry), and peel off the skins. Pulse the tomatoes in a food processor to desired consistency. Remember that they will break down more in the jam, so if you want it chunky you don’t want to pulse it too much. In a small bowl or cup, whisk together the spices. In the small or medium saucepan, combine the cider vinegar, apple juice, brown sugar, and spices. Heat until sugar is dissolved and stir in the tomatoes. Bring the mixture to a boil; reduce to low heat and simmer for 15-30 minutes, until desired consistency. About halfway through this process squeeze in half a lemon. Let the mixture cool.

2. To make the eggplant, thinly slice one small or medium eggplant, either with a very sharp knife or mandoline. Place slices in a colander and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Let it drain in a sink for 5-10 minutes, or until you can see that the eggplant has “sweated” out some of the liquid. Place the slices on a tray, spray with olive oil spray or rub lightly with olive oil, sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon each of salt, pepper and garlic powder. Roast in a 375 degree oven for 5-10 minutes, or until cooked through and the edges are turning lightly brown, then let them cool.

3. For the puff pastry, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Roll out the dough until about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick and cut into even squares. If you want them pretty, brush with an egg wash (1 egg plus 1 tablespoon of water) or melted butter. Bake squares for 5-8 minutes, or until golden brown.

4. Slice or pull apart the mozzarella into even servings, or as many as you want. I went for an egg-sized mozzarella serving per person, which is ambitious, but no one was judging.

5. Layer up your app: Puff pastry, mozz, eggplant slice (or two), and a tablespoon of the tomato jam.

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