- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 large eggplant, about 2 pounds
- Salt and pepper
- 2 cups basic tomato sauce, recipe follows
- 1 bunch fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
- 1 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced 1/8-inch thick
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs, lightly toasted under broiler
- Basic tomato sauce:
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 Spanish onion, 1/4-inch dice
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves, or 1 tablespoon dried
- 1/2 medium carrot, finely grated
- 2 (28-ounce) cans peeled whole tomatoes, crushed by hand and juices reserved
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Using some extra-virgin olive oil, oil a baking sheet.
Slice each eggplant into 6 pieces about 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick. Lightly season each disk with salt and pepper and place on the oiled sheet. Bake the eggplant at 450 degrees F until the slices begin turning deep brown on top, about 12-15 minutes. Remove the eggplants from the oven. Remove the slices from the baking sheet and place them on a plate to cool.
Lower oven temperature to 350 degrees F. In an 8 by 12-inch brownie pan, place the 4 largest eggplant slice evenly spaced apart. Over each slice, spread 1/4 cup of tomato sauce and sprinkle with a teaspoon of basil. Place one slice of mozzarella over each and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon grated Parmigiano. Place the smaller slices of eggplant over each of the disks and repeat with tomato sauce, basil, and the 2 cheeses. Repeat the layering again until all the ingredients are used.Tomato Sauce:
In a 3-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft and light golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the thyme and carrot and cook 5 minutes more, until the carrot is quite soft. Add the tomatoes and juice and bring to a boil, stirring often. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes until as thick as hot cereal. Season with salt and serve. This sauce holds 1 week in the refrigerator or up to 6 months in the freezer.
Yield: 4 cups
Recipe courtesy Mario Batali