"This dish was born in the early days of the Paragon kitchen, circa 1990, when we were new kids on the block," says Christine Manfield. "It marked the beginning of the trend for stacking ingredients and its success lay in the combination of flavours and its last-minute cooking and assembly. Its construction took the concept of a sandwich, the eggplant taking on the role of bread, and transformed it with a slightly more theatrical presentation. The intention is that when you slice through the sandwich from top to bottom, you capture all the flavours and textures in one bite. The star ingredients are the goat's cheese (choose one of the artisanal brands made in Australia like Holy Goat, Woodside or Tongola) and the homemade pesto. Use your own favourite pesto recipe here."
- 3 small eggplant, cut into twelve 2cm-thick slices
- 2 red capsicum
- Vegetable oil, for deep-frying
- 6 thick slices goat's cheese, at room temperature
- 2½ tbsp basil pesto
- ½ cup thinly sliced rocket
- 90 ml extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
- 1½ tbsp aged balsamic vinegar
- 1Sprinkle eggplant slices with sea salt, place on a tray and stand for 1 hour to sweat. Pat dry with paper towels.
- 2Meanwhile, roast capsicum over a direct flame until skins blister and blacken (6-8 minutes). Remove skins by washing the capsicum under cold running water, remove stalks, then open out flat. Remove pith and seeds with a knife, being careful not to cut the flesh. Cut the capsicum into strips lengthways and drizzle with a little olive oil if not using immediately.
- 3Heat vegetable oil in a deep-fryer or large saucepan to 180C. Deep-fry eggplant in batches, turning occasionally, until golden brown on both sides (4-5 minutes; be careful, hot oil will spit). Drain and pat dry with paper towels.
- 4For balsamic vinaigrette, whisk ingredients in a bowl to combine and season to taste.
Drink Suggestion: A Sancerre or Shaw & Smith Sauvignon Blanc Drink suggestion by Christine Manfield