By Rebeka Carpenter, Hollyhock Head Chef/Kitchen Manager.
I made this dish last night to rave reviews for a Bistro Themed supper at Hollyhock on a lovely summer eve. It has a much lighter adaptation, and is similar in approach to the Roasted Vegetable Lasagna in our 1st Cookbook, Hollyhock Cooks. When one witnesses most guests coming back for 2nd helpings, it is an indicator of a sure fire winner of a dish!
Eggplant are lovely summer veggies, as are tomatoes, so feel free to substitute fresh, and simply simmer the sauce longer, and perhaps add some tomato paste to add richness and thickness. The bread crumb topping is not essential, but adds nutritional protein value.
This recipe is an adaptation by Marion Burros of the NYT, and is an adaptation of one found in Jamie Oliver’s book, Jamie’s Italy. It’s a healthier version than the traditional Italian-American oil soaked version; it omits breading and frying the eggplant, and instead calls for roasting the eggplant until golden brown.
- Yield 4 to 5 servings
- Time 1 hour 45 minutes
- 3 medium-large eggplants, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices
- Olive oil
- Salt & Pepper
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 1 large clove garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 28-ounce can no-salt plum tomatoes or crushed tomatoes ( feel free to substitute fresh tomatoes and tomato paste)
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- ½ cup (packed) fresh basil leaves
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, or as needed ( I added an extra layer of organic mozzarella in equal amounts for a bit more cheese and added nutrition)
- ⅓ cup fine dry bread crumbs
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves, optional
- Shot of red wine-optional
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brush both sides of eggplant slices with oil, and place in a single layer on two or more baking sheets. Sprinkle one side w/salt and pepper. Bake until slices are golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes, then turn and bake until other sides are lightly browned. Set aside. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees.
- Meanwhile, in a large saucepan over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and add onion. Sauté until soft, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and dried oregano and sauté another 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and their juices, breaking up whole tomatoes with your hands. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 15 to 20 minutes. After 10 minutes add a good shot of red wine.
- Add vinegar, basil and salt and pepper to taste. Into a 9-by-9-inch, 10-by-5-inch or 10-by-6-inch baking pan, spoon a small amount of tomato sauce, then a single layer of eggplant, then add a thin scattering of parmigiana and mozzarella. Repeat until all ingredients are used, ending with a little sauce and a sprinkling of parmigiana and mozzarella. In a small bowl, combine bread crumbs and oregano, if using, with just enough olive oil to moisten. If desired, recipe can be made to this point and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before baking.
- Bake cheese topped eggplant for approx. 15 min. Then sprinkle the bread crumbs on top to complete baking for approx. another 15-30 minutes, or until bubble and golden brown all over.
- Remove from heat and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving. Recipe can also be reheated.
If desired, a good shot of red wine can be added to the sauce as it reduces for added depth and flavor.
Enjoy! Let us know when you think in the comments below.
For more culinary delights, visit our Hollyhock kitchen on Cortes Island!