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Food & Dining // Heart-y Chef
Diana Helfand

Forget The Golf Clubs — Grab A Fork

Chef de cuisine Nik Lobendahn with Eggplant Marsala at Kapolei Golf Club. Nathalie Walker photo

Chef de cuisine Nik Lobendahn with Eggplant Marsala at Kapolei Golf Club. Nathalie Walker photo

It’s worth a trip to Kapolei Golf Course just to eat at the restaurant! It is a feast for the eyes as well as the body, overlooking the golf course and beautiful grounds. The décor is casual and relaxing, the servers are friendly and caring, and the menu has delectable choices for just about any palate.

Chef de cuisine Nikolaos Lobendahn successfully has revamped the entire breakfast and lunch menus with mouthwatering and healthier selections, such as an acai bowl with Greek yogurt, banana and fresh berries, featuring its house-made granola; Eggplant Marsala; and Roasted Garlic Salmon, a pasta dish that uses Sun Noodles ramen. The restaurant buys local produce and products when available. For more information and hours of operation, call 674-2227.

The chef has more than 15 years of fine-dining cooking experience and has worked for a number of James Beard Award-winning and Michelin-starred chefs both on the Mainland and in Hawaii. He helped run Uni Sashimi Bar under chef Ken Oringer of Clio Restaurant in Boston, and took lead roles at Michelin-starred restaurants Ame and Campton Place in San Francisco. Here in Hawaii, he helped chef Alan Wong open Pineapple Room, followed by dedicating years of work to Chef Wong’s flagship restaurant, Alan Wong’s.

Here he graciously shares a recipe for a popular menu item with MidWeek readers.

Eggplant was first cultivated in China around the 5th century B.C. and spread throughout Europe after the 1300s. It was grown more widely as a food rather than a decorative plant in the 1700s, when less bitter varieties were cultivated. Eggplant is a good source of fiber and contains manganese, potassium, folate, copper, magnesium, B vita-mins and vitamin K.

EGGPLANT MARSALA

* 2 large round eggplant, sliced
* 1 cup flour
* 2 eggs (may use 4 egg whites), slightly beaten
* 3 cups panko
* 3 cups sliced button mushrooms
* 1/2 onion, sliced
* 2 cups Marsala wine
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 1 tablespoon butter
* 1/4 cup cream (optional)
* 1 cup cooked spinach
* 1 log fresh mozzarella (may use less, to taste)
* 4 ciabatta rolls (cut in half)
* salt and pepper, to taste

Slice eggplant lengthwise 1/2-inch thick. Flour each side, then dip eggplant into egg and coat well. Coat with panko and set aside.

For Marsala, brown mushrooms and onions until golden brown (might need to brown mushrooms and onions in two or three batches). Add to a pot with Marsala wine and reduce by half. In a pan, heat olive oil on medium-high heat. Cook eggplant about 3-4 minutes on each side until golden brown and immediately add salt. Add butter and cream (if desired) to Marsala and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Place eggplant on a cookie sheet, add cooked spinach and top with sliced fresh mozzarella and bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees.

Toast ciabatta at the same time, then place each eggplant slice on top. Once cheeses are melted, put on a plate and pour Marsala sauce on top.

Serve immediately.

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