Vegetarian Giro d’Italia: Goat Cheese, Grilled Japanese Eggplant and Zucchini With Balsamic Red Wine Reduction

May 23, 2010 By: Megabeth Category: Other, Snacks/Appetizers, Vegetarian Giro d'Italia Print This Post Print This Post

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This is an original recipe by a fellow cycling fan and friend from Podium Cafe – Fred Marx (aka Chris). When I decided to tackle the Giro, I immediately thought of approaching him for a guest post as he always provides great suggestions, insights and ideas on anything food related. When I asked him to help, he jumped at the chance and brought Veggin’ this mouth-watering dish.

(By the way, Mr. Fred Marx is not only a talent in the kitchen, but also behind the lens. Check out these great photos and this chance to win one of them!)

And, without further ado, I hand over the steering wheel of Veggin’ and let Fred Marx take a spin with his contribution to the Vegetarian Giro d’Italia: Goat Cheese, Grilled Japanese Eggplant and Zucchini with Balsamic Red Wine Reduction.

He’s definitely allowed into my kitchen whenever he’d like…

Goat Cheese, Grilled Japanese Eggplant and Zucchini With Balsamic Red Wine Reduction
recipe by Fred Marx (aka Chris) from Podium Cafe


  • One medium Baguette, sliced on a bias, brushed with extra virgin olive oil and baked until golden brown at the edges
    • lightly salt and pepper as desired
    • oven as hot as you are comfortable with and can watch
    • too slow and they are stale or soggy too fast and they burn.
  • One small 4-5 oz goat cheese.


  • Two Japanese Eggplant
  • One small zucchini about 4”
  • ½ of  a smallish red onion
  • 6 sun-dried tomatoes
  • Capers
  • Roasted Garlic
  • Fresh Basil

The zucchini and the eggplant are sliced thinly.  1 or so hours ahead of preparation, lightly dust the sliced eggplant with Kosher salt.   Allow to drain though a strainer, then pat dry.  This will leach away some of the water content, tenderize and also remove some of the bitterness associated with the eggplant.

Heat a pan with ridges similar to a panini pan or your grill, lightly brush the sliced veggies with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  About 60/40 oil to vinegar.  Avoid soaking the veggies because they will flare and spatter.  Salt and peeper as desired.  Cook until lightly browned, but still firm.

Slice the onion and caramelize it over medium heat until golden brown.  Red onion caramelizes much better than white or yellow.

After cooking, julienne the sliced veggies, 4 of the sundried tomatoes and fine dice the onion.  If possible do this while they are still warm.  Mix together with a generous tablespoon of the capers (more if you like em, less if you’re not sure), set mix aside where it will stay warm.  Alternatively, cool the partially cooked veggies and then make the mix.  If cooled it will need to be reheated so the initial cooking time needs to be shortened.  The goal is firm grilled veggies, flavorful but not soggy.

Roll the basil leaves lengthwise and slice finely. Set aside.

Finely slice a couple of sundried tomatoes. Set aside.

Hang on to the remaining capers.


  • 1-1.5 cups veggie stock – unsalted
  • 1/2 cup red wine, something hearty, flavorful, but inexpensive Burgundy or Italian Red
  • ¼ cup quality Balsamic vinegar
  • 4-5 tbls Unsalted Butter

This is going to end up as your basic Buerre Rouge more or less.

A reduction finished with whole butter.

Put stock, wine, and vinegar in a non-reacting pan and bring to a rolling boil, reduce heat slightly and allow to cook until volume is reduced thick liquid.  This is the critical part.  This reduction will hold at a moderate temperature until needed.  Key here is not allowing it to get cold. When everything else is ready, you’re going to add the butter (whole room temp is fine, but not melted) in approximately 1 tbls slices and allow to mix into the reduction.  This is an emulsion much like oil and vinegar.  Too hot it will separate, too cold and it will not go together.  Once you get these nailed anything is possible.  The more common Buerre Blanc (Butter Sauce) is made with white wine, a mild white vinegar, shallots and other savory herbs.


Place 3-4 pieces of toast on a plate.  Gently smear with a goat cheese.  Place a proportionate serving of the warm veggies on the cheese.  Finish the sauce if it isn’t and drizzle it over the servings, and around the plate.  Garnish with sliced sundried tomato, capers, and the basil and serve.  This made approximately 12 pieces.

It looks prep intensive, but it assembled in about 45 minutes.  These can be done as cold apps without the reduction, but it’s more fun the other way.  Alternately, the veggies can be left whole but the end result is less delicate, and the flavors tend to be come harder to balance.

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