Make Ahead

A Nod to Hoboken Italian Delis - Eggplant Neapolitan Tower

February 20, 2021
0 Ratings
Photo by Sherri Simko
  • Prep time 30 minutes
  • Cook time 35 minutes
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

A delightful mix of Italian ingredients that make tasty "towers". This recipe can be adapted to be the star in an entree or center stage in a bed of arugula as a starter. A nod to the family Italian delis in Hoboken that make wonderful homemade fresh mozzarella, marinara and pesto. —Sherri Simko

What You'll Need
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal/polenta (dry)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup vegetable broth or water
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 pound med size Eggplant
  • 1/2 cup Flour
  • 2 Eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups Panko
  • 2 cups Marinara Sauce (warm on stove)
  • 8 ounces Fresh Mozzarella, 8 slices approx 3" diam
  • 1 Roasted Red Pepper (I used jarred, and sliced 1/4" slices), slice in 1/2" pieces
  • 8 tablespoons Pesto
  • 2 tablespoons Pine Nuts, toasted
  • 1/2 cup Olive Oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • muffin tin, 6 cups, well oiled
  1. Toast pine nuts, set aside Set oven to 400 Make Polenta: Heat broth and milk until boiling. Stir in cornmeal and continue to whisk for approx. 5 min. until creamy and smooth. Pour into muffin tins. (they will be 1/2 full, the recipe will only use 4 of these). Set aside to cool. Once cooled, ease them out of the tins and place on an oiled baking sheet. Place in oven the same time as Eggplant, bake 15 min, turning halfway and bake until lightly browned. Set aside
  2. Slice eggplant - you need 8 slices all approximately 3-4" diam, 1/4" thick. Use the rest of the eggplant for another dish. Set up the stations to dip eggplant: 1 for flour, 1 for egg mixture, 1 for panko. Coat slices in flour, shake off, then in egg, then coat in Panko, pressing firm to have fully coated. Continue with the 8 slices. Place on well oiled baking pan, brush both sides with oil. Bake 15-20 min per side; check oven at 15 min depending on your oven. They should be lightly browned. Set aside. Turn oven down to 300.
  3. Use a serving dish that will hold 4 towers. Coat dish with 1 cup of marinara. Create towers: 1 eggplant size on sauce bed, top with cheese slice, spread 1 T pesto, to with red pepper slices. Add 2nd eggplant slice, add slice of cheese, spread pesto, and top with Polenta cake. Drizzle towers with rest of sauce and sprinkle pine nuts. Carefully place serving platter with 4 towers in the oven to warm and soften the cheese. Be careful to only heat for approx 2 minutes to avoid the cheese to melt and towers to fall!
  4. Serve as is for an appetizer, or place on a bed of arugula. For an entree, I sauteed mushrooms and sausages, added these to the dish around the towers for a complete meal.

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