this recipe was inspired by my husbands grandmother. she was a lovely baltimore italian grandmother, and as such, loved to cook and to eat. she made wonderful dishes that my husband grew up with and cherished. when she passed away we realized that she had never written down her recipes, and being an independent woman, never shown anyone how to make them either.
it broke my heart to know that he would never taste her dishes again, and so, i made a valiant effort to recreate two of his favorites. this is one, the other is zucchini bread and he loves them both. during the summer we buy the eggplants at the farmer's market and they are sweet and meaty. in the winter we make due with the store bought variety from the supermarket. we rarely let a month go by without having this dish.
this is the perfect dish if you have a vegetarian to dinner and another guest who loves meat. it's very filling, but good for you as well.
2 large, or 3 medium eggplants, peeled
3 to 4 cups of low moisture mozzarella cheese, grated
1/4 cup of parmigiano reggiano, grated
3 cups of tomato sauce
extra virgin olive oil
a good knife
peel the eggplants and slice them lengthwise so that they are about 1/4" thick. salt them and let them sit for about 10 minutes. rinse them off and pat them dry. (this is to help remove some of the bitterness of the eggplant...if you are in a hurry, you can skip this step, though it won't taste as good.)
oil the grill pan and heat on medium high. lay the eggplant on the grill pan and carefully monitor their cooking so they don't burn. you want them to get good solid grill marks though.
while the eggplant is cooking, grate both cheeses and prepare the casserole by putting about 2 tablespoons of olive oil on the bottom and using your fingers to spread it around. preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
once the eggplant has been grilled, layer slices of eggplant, tomato sauce, mozzarella and basil. repeat this step until you have no more eggplant and top with parmigiano reggiano.
bake for approximately 20 minutes or until the cheese on the top is golden brown.
you can use either jarred tomato sauce or your own...either way it will be good.
feel free to grill some asparagus or sautee some spinach to add in, both would be yummy.
if you don't need to keep it veg-friendly, carnivores would appreciate some thinly sliced prosciutto