I look at eggplant as a “blank canvas” of culinary opportunity. Its mild flavour and creamy texture can be partnered with so many other ingredients.
It can be centre stage in a dish, or be a quiet background player. It can be used to make dips, soups, salads, main courses and so on.
This week's recipe partners eggplant with smoked mozzarella and tomato sauce in an easy casserole that would be perfect accompanied by a big, leafy salad.
The smokiness of the mozzarella is a great match with the eggplant. While there are a wide variety of eggplant available to choose from at most market stands and grocery produce sections, I prefer to use the larger, dark purple variety in this recipe.
This is a terrific vegetarian main course, or can be a side dish.
Leftovers reheat well.
Baked Eggplant with Smoked Mozzarella
- 2 medium purple eggplant about (2 .5 lbs. 1.125 kg. in total)
- 1/3 cup (75 ml) olive oil
- 1/2 cup (125 ml) of dry seasoned breadcrumbs
- *1/2 lb. (250 g) of grated smoked mozzarella
- 1 (250 ml) cup of torn fresh basil leaves
- 3 cups (750 ml) pasta sauce
- 1/4 cup (50 ml) grated Parmesan cheese
1. Preheat oven to 425F. (210C)
2. Trim the stem ends off the eggplant and discard. Slice lengthwise into 1/2 inch (2.5 cm) slices.
3. Grease two baking sheets. Place eggplant slices on baking sheets. Brush with olive oil. Place in oven and cook for 20-25 minutes until golden.
4. Remove from oven and let cool. Reduce heat to 375 F (190C)
5. Grease 9 x 11 (22 x 28 cm) baking dish. Place half of the eggplant slices over the pan, overlapping if necessary.
6. Season lightly with salt and sprinkle breadcrumbs over top.
7. Place half of the cheese on top, followed by half of the basil leaves. Season generously with pepper. Spoon half of the pasta sauce over top.
8. Place remaining eggplant slices on top followed by the remaining basil, tomato sauce and finishing with the remaining mozzarella.
9. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and place in a preheated 375 F. oven and bake for 25 - 30 minutes until golden on top.
10 . Let rest for at least 10-15 minutes before serving.