The Boot in Norfolk is a restaurant dedicated to the budding locavore movement. Always on the hunt for new Virginia-grown produce, The Boot’s menu reflects what’s fresh and locally made all year round. This recipe, for Vegetable Napoleon, can be made almost entirely with produce garnered from your local farmers market.
VEGGIE NAPOLEON, by Chef David Hausmann
4 red bell peppers - grilled until charred and skins peeled and seeded - (buying canned roasted red peppers is fine)
2 black beauty eggplant or any variety (just steer away from giant ones with huge seed pockets)
4 yellow squash
1 tsp. dried thyme
4 cloves of garlic (minced)
1 cup toasted pistachios (pounded to a powder)
12 big basil leaves
salt and black pepper
extra virgin olive oil
Shoot for starting with an equal weight of your 4 main vegetables. This will make 4 decent sized Napoleons which in this case is like making individual pieces of vegetable lasagna but without pasta or the cheese, and really you can do the cheese and it is just as good.
Napoleon dessert is different and makers of such probably cringe at my word use here. How you cut and prepare the vegetables has to do with how you assemble the dish, so you want to see the finished Napoleon in your head as you work. Cut 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch slices of vegetables so that each slice is one layer of your Napoleon, maybe two slices of squash or zucchini on a long bias is needed to make a layer. There is really not a lot of right or wrong here, just what you like.
Turn on your grill or begin to heat your grill pan if using. Also heat oven to 350°F/175°C. (if cutting vegetables is timely turn your grill and oven on after)
Slice your uncooked vegetables to 1/8 thick (on a bias if length is needed) and toss in a bowl with cheap cooking oil, garlic, salt, pepper and dried thyme.
Put slices on the grill and cook veg slices until marks appear, about 1-2 min. Don’t let the vegetables cook too long and get mushy.
Pull off the grill and let cool to the touch. We want to start stacking the layers to build our Napoleons and we will do this on an oiled sheet pan or glass baking dish.
You can do what you like here but just go for repeating your layer order 3 times. Eggplant -> Pistachio -> Squash -> Zucchini -> Red Pepper -> Basil Leaf (so stack all these on top of each other and then do it again and again until you have an impossible 18 layer veggie tower. Remember cheese can be a welcome layer - mozzarella, ricotta, chevre, gruyere etc.)
Once your stack is complete we will put it into the oven to roast and get hot. It’s mostly cooked so this step only takes about 10-12 min. If you went for the cheese layers you might need a toothpick to make sure it all stays together.
When pulling out to serve, place each one on the plate and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. As a side I like to sear some oyster mushrooms, shiitakes or simple buttons. Don’t put mushrooms in the Napoleon unless you are substituting portobellos for the eggplant. Portobellos and eggplant together can be a more is less situation.
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