STYLE
04/03/2012 03:04 EDT | Updated 06/03/2012 05:12 EDT

Eggplant rounds with cheese and walnuts appealing appetizer for special dinner

This unusual eggplant appetizer will wow guests at your Easter table. The walnut crumbs are a contrast to the soft, moist eggplant and gooey cheese rounds. Simple to prepare, it’s hard to stop at just one serving.

Eggplant Parmesan

125 ml (1/2 cup) Italian breadcrumbs

125 ml (1/2 cup) Parmesan cheese, grated

175 ml (3/4 cup) walnut crumbs

Salt and pepper, to taste

2 eggs, lightly beaten

125 ml (1/2 cup) all-purpose flour

1 large eggplant

125 g (4 oz) fresh mozzarella

Sauce

500 ml (2 cups) passata (tomato puree)

2 Roma tomatoes, diced

Handful basil leaves, cut in chiffonade (long, thin strips)

1 garlic clove, minced

30 ml (2 tbsp) olive oil

Fresh basil, for garnish

Heat oven to 200 C (400 F).

In a medium bowl, combine breadcrumbs, Parmesan and walnuts and season with salt and pepper.

Place eggs in another bowl and season with salt and pepper. Repeat for flour.

Slice eggplant crosswise into 8 to 10 1-cm (1/2-inch) thick rounds. Dip each slice into flour, followed by egg and last into walnut mixture. Press firmly to achieve an even breading.

Lay eggplant slices onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake on the centre oven rack for 15 minutes.

Sauce: In a medium saucepan, place passata, tomatoes, basil leaves, garlic and olive oil and gently simmer over low heat.

Spoon desired amount of sauce over each eggplant slice and top with fresh mozzarella.

Return eggplant to oven for 5 to 7 minutes until mozzarella has melted.

Makes 4 to 5 servings.

Nutritional information per serving (1/4 of recipe): 490 calories; 19 g protein; 31 g fat (7 g saturated fat); 35 g carbohydrate; 25 mg cholesterol; 8 g fibre; 783 mg sodium.

Source: California Walnuts, walnutinfo.com.