With the chill in the air, its hard not to start thinking of autumn. Eggplant is an autumn delight, and the parmesan style of preparing it remains a favorite. However, the thinly cut, heavily breaded style is boring and a little too heavy on the starchy carbs. So, we did some research and came up with a flavorful version that is twice baked. With whole wheat or quinoa pasta, this dish is a testament to the diminished value of meat on the plate! Cheers to Meatless Monday!
We’d like to send a shout out to Kim’s mom, Sharon, for grandma’s red sauce. We also want to thank Mario Batali, as we thickened the eggplant slices and used the baking temperatures from his recipe in Molto Italianno.
- 6 cups of diced tomatoes (2 large cans)
- 3 cups tomato purée (1 large can)
- 1 cup of tomato paste
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 4 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 cup parsley, chopped
- 1 cup basil, chopped
- 1 tsp. oregano
- 1 cup red wine
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 2-3 bay leaves
- 1 large eggplant
- 1/4 cup dried mushrooms (mixed variety)
- 1/4 cup bread crumbs
- 1 tsp. rosemary, finely chopped
- 1 lb. fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
To prepare red sauce, drizzle 2 tbsp olive oil in large pot (that you’ll use for the batch) and sauté onion for about 4-5 minutes over high heat. Reduce heat and add all of the tomato ingredients, half of the basil and parsley, red wine, oregano, red pepper, bay leaves, and salt/pepper. Simmer for as long as possible. If possible, let sit overnight to further develop the flavor.
Preheat oven to 450-degrees. Slice eggplant into one inch thick rounds and place on oiled baking sheet. Sprinkle salt and pepper onto slices and bake for 14-16 minutes or until the tops are slightly brown. Allow them to cool before assembly. Turn oven down to 350-degrees.
Using a coffee grinder or hand mixer, crush mushrooms until a course powder. Mix with bread crumbs and rosemary and set aside. Mix together remaining basil and parsley and set aside for assembly as well.
When you are ready to assemble, generously oil your deep baking or casserole dish. Layer eggplant rounds next to each other. Sprinkle about 1/2 of bread crumbs on top, then dollop and spread out red sauce, followed by half of the herb mixture, and half the sliced mozzarella. Repeat for a second layer and sprinkle any remaining bread crumbs on top.
Bake for about 20 minutes. If cheese isn’t brown at this point, feel free to stick it under the broiler for a couple of minutes. Cool and serve with a green salad and your favorite pasta. And, red wine of course! Enjoy!