Note: this recipe is not traditional, as I don’t fry my eggplant but rather bake or grill it. No breading, extra delicious!
Yield: 4 entrée servings
- 1 very large, or 2 medium globe eggplants*
- extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing on the slices of eggplant
- 1 cup fresh tomato sauce, or a little more, to your taste
- 1/2 lb. mozzarella cheese—fresh or regular, as you like, sliced thin
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Reggiano Parmesan cheese
Peel strips off the eggplant skin so it is striped, long-ways. Trim the stem end just past the calyx, and then slice the eggplant(s) into 1/3 inch thick rounds. Brush these with olive oil, on both sides, and lightly salt. Either bake at 350°F. until soft, or grill on a fairly low temperature grill (gas or charcoal) until they are soft. Do not allow to burn!
Assemble the dish by choosing a medium-large ceramic casserole pan, 9x13 or the equivalent, and smear a little sauce on the bottom. Top with eggplant slices, slivers of mozzarella, and generous dots of sauce. Sprinkle heavily with the Parmesan. Make 2 layers if needed, but it’s best to do it all in one, if you can. Dish can be prepared to this point, and refrigerated until ready to cook (up to a day).
Before serving, preheat oven to 350°F., and bake casserole until hot and bubbly, 12-15 minutes (a bit longer if it was refrigerated). Serve immediately.
*eggplants must be very, very fresh. Choose the ones which are shiny and firm, with a bright green calyx. Store them at room temperature, and use them within a day. If they are brown inside, don’t bother cooking them—they will be awfully bitter and even salting and draining them won’t help; if they are just a little less than perfectly fresh, after slicing, salt the slices heavily and let drain for 1/2 hour; blot well, brush with oil and cook.