Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: eggplant

Tomatoes are at their peak now in my area and they are plentiful. Here are some ideas on what you can cook with them.

Greek Tomato And Eggplant Tart

Pastry
1 1/2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons of ice-cold water
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 tablespoons yellow cornmeal or semolina flour
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter, cold and cut into small pieces

Filling
1 small (about 1 lb) eggplant, thinly sliced
4 plum tomatoes, thinly sliced
4 to 5 sprigs of fresh thyme leaves, stripped from stem
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, roughly chopped
6 oz fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
1/4 cup feta cheese crumbled
Sea salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil for drizzling

For the pastry
Mix the yogurt and ice water together in a small bowl. Set aside.
Mix together the flours, cornmeal, and salt in a large bowl. Using a fork or pastry cutter, cut the butter into the flour mixture until you have small pieces. Add the water/yogurt mix one tablespoon at a time to the flour mixture, mixing gently. Gather the wet dough pieces together and shape into a ball. Do not overwork the dough, it will be soft. Wrap in plastic and place in the refrigerator for at least two hours (can be frozen for one month).

Place tomatoes in a single layer on paper towels; sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt. Let stand for 15 minutes.
Brush eggplant slices with oil and broil on high for 5 minutes on each side until tender. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 375° F. Place a piece of parchment on a smooth surface and lightly flour. Top with another piece of parchment or plastic wrap. Roll the dough out to 11 inches in diameter, Transfer to an ungreased 9-inch pie plate.

Layer in the following order: eggplant slices, mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, herbs, feta cheese, and drizzle with olive oil. Crimp the edges of the pastry.

Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the layers are bubbly and hot. Cool for at least ten minutes or until room temperature before serving.

Fresh Tomato Sauce

Ingredients

4-5 pounds of fresh Roma tomatoes, quartered and seeded retaining as much pulp as possible
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large sweet onion, finely diced
2 celery stalks, finely diced
1 carrot, finely diced
2 large cloves of fresh garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (chili)
1-2 teaspoons honey, if needed

Herbs
Place the following herbs in a piece of cheesecloth and tie the cheesecloth closed.

1/3 cup fresh basil leaves
1 sprig of fresh thyme
1 sprig of fresh oregano
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs of parsley

Directions

Pour the olive oil into a large stockpot over medium heat.
Add the onions, celery, garlic, and carrots.
Saute for 5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
Add the tomatoes and sea salt.
Simmer on low heat, covered, for about an hour until the tomatoes cook down.
Remove the pot from the heat and using an immersion blender, process the mixture until smooth.
Return the pot to the heat and add the herb cheesecloth package.
Taste the sauce to see if the tomatoes were too bitter. Add the honey, if needed.
Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook until reduced and thick, an hour to an hour and a half more. Remove the cheesecloth package and discard it.
Pour the sauce into a refrigerator container and store the sauce up to 1 week, or freeze in batches.


Tomatoes with Herbed Ricotta

Use beautiful heirloom tomatoes that are in season now along with lots of fresh herbs.

For two servings:

Ingredients

1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
1 scallion, white and green parts, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
1 tablespoon minced fresh chives
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
Freshly ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, minced\
1 large heirloom tomato, about 1 lb
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons julienned fresh basil leaves, plus extra for garnish
Fleur de sel

Directions

In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, scallions, dill, chives, parsley, garlic and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Set aside for up to 30 minutes.
Slice the tomato into ¼ inch thick slices. You should get 4 slices. Place on paper towels and sprinkle lightly with salt. Let drain for 30 minutes. When ready to serve, place the tomato slices on a serving plate. Drizzle with olive oil. Spread ¼ of the ricotta mixture over each tomato slice. Sprinkle with reserved basil and fleur de sel, and serve at room temperature.

Summer Fresh Tomato Salad

2-3 servings

Ingredients

½ cup diced red onion
1 1/2 pounds ripe red tomatoes, cut into wedges
Shredded fresh basil leaves
½ teaspoon salt, divided
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Directions

For the dressing, in a small bowl whisk together the mustard, vinegar, pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Gradually whisk in the olive oil.

Place the onion, tomatoes, and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt in a salad serving bowl. Toss with the salad dressing. Cover and chill at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours, stirring occasionally.


This recipe was inspired by a recipe posted on Lana Russo’s site, Friends Who Like Once Upon A Spice. The recipe is from the magazine: LA CUCINA ITALIANA

I adapted the recipe to my taste by broiling the eggplant shell instead of frying it and making the dish hearty enough to serve as an entree with the addition of some Italian sausage in the stuffing. This dish was delicious.

2 servings

Ingredients

3 plum tomatoes total about 6 oz, diced
¼ cup plain panko breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon capers
1 medium eggplant about 14-15 oz
½ cup (about 6 oz) diced sweet cherry peppers
1 garlic clove, grated
½ teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
½ teaspoon salt
6 oz cooked Italian sausage, diced
Extra-virgin olive oil
Basil leaves for garnish

Directions

Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise and scoop out the pulp using a grapefruit teaspoon leaving a ¼ inch shell. Set the pulp aside.


Spray the eggplant shells with olive oil and place on a foiled lined pan. Broil the shells under high heat for 5-8 minutes until brown.

Chop the eggplant pulp and brown in a saucepan with 4-5 tablespoons of olive oil for 3-4 minutes. Add the cherry peppers, garlic, capers, oregano, diced tomatoes, salt, and tomato paste. Cook for another 3-4 minutes. Stir in the sausage and heat until warm.
Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the breadcrumbs and mozzarella cheese.

Divide the mixture between the two eggplant shells. Transfer the stuffed eggplants to a baking sheet lined with foil. Bake the stuffed eggplant at 350°F for about 20 minutes or until hot. Remove to serving plates and garnish with basil leaves.


This is a great time of year to make this sauce since all the vegetables included in the recipe are in season.

Ingredients

Eggplant
1 ½-2 lbs small eggplant
4 garlic cloves
¼ cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Peppers and Onions
1 ½ lbs Italian frying peppers
1 large sweet onion
2 garlic cloves
¼ cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Tomatoes
2 ½ lbs large vine ripe tomatoes
1 ½ lbs ripe cherry tomatoes
4 garlic cloves
¼ cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F

For the roasted eggplant
Peel the eggplant and then into ½-inch cubes. Pour the olive oil into a 13×9-inch baking pan. Smash the garlic cloves and place them in the pan. Add the eggplant and season generously with salt and pepper. Stir the ingredients until the eggplant is coated in oil. Bake 30 minutes stirring the eggplant several through the roasting time to prevent the eggplant from sticking to the pan. Scrape the eggplant into a Dutch Oven with a spatula and set the pot aside, Do not clean out the baking dish.

For the peppers and onions
Remove the seeds from the cut peppers and cut them into ½-inch dice. Peel the onion and cut into ½-inch dice.
In the same baking dish used for the eggplant, pour in the oil, add the smashed garlic, peppers, and onions. Add salt and pepper and stir the ingredients. Bake for 30 minutes stirring the ingredients several through the roasting time. Pour the peppers and onions into the Dutch Oven with the eggplant and reserve the baking dish.

 

For the tomatoes
Cut the large tomatoes in half. Pour the olive oil into the baking dish. Add the smashed garlic, large tomatoes, and cherry tomatoes. Generously salt and pepper the tomatoes. Bake for 30 minutes stirring the ingredients several through the roasting time.

Mash the tomatoes with a potato masher and add the ingredients to the Dutch Oven.

To make the sauce
Add 1 teaspoon of dried Italian seasoning and a sprig of fresh basil to the pot. Bring the sauce to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer, partially cover the pot and cook until the sauce is reduced by half.

To use the sauce with pasta
Add 12 ounces of short pasta, such as Casarecce, Campanelle or Farfalle cooked al dente and 2 tablespoons of butter to the pan with the sauce and bring to a simmer, tossing until the butter melts and the pasta finishes cooking about 1 minute. Serve pasta with Parmesan cheese and hot pepper flakes
You can also serve the sauce over cooked spaghetti or as a sauce for lasagna.

To use the sauce for pizza
Cover the dough with sliced Fontina cheese and add about 2 cups of the Roasted Garden Vegetable sauce. Bake in a 450-degree F oven for 20 minutes.


Heirloom Rosa Bianca eggplants are one of the most eye-catching varieties of eggplant. They’re plump and round, and their violet and white exteriors have an attractive appearance. This mild variety is completely void of bitterness and tastes best when sliced and roasted or grilled. S
Rosa Biancas are a Sicilian variety, so incorporating them into a classic Sicilian or Italian dish is typical. Their mild flavor is a perfect complement for tomatoes and cheese and they are excellent choices for Caponata and for grilling.

Eggplant Stacks

I made 6 stacks

For the eggplant
4 large eggs, beaten
11/2 cups Italian flour (00) or all-purpose flour
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 round eggplants, peeled, cut into 1/4-inch slices
Vegetable oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the stacks
Ricotta cheese
6 Tomato slices
6 Fresh mozzarella slices

Directions

Choose 12 large round slices of eggplant after you slice them and save the remaining slices for another dish. Season with salt and pepper.


Prepare two shallow dishes, in one beat the eggs with one tablespoon of water and the grated Parmesan cheese, and place the flour in the second dish.
Coat eggplant slices first with flour, then with egg and then in flour a second time.


Heat enough oil to cover the bottom of a large skillet over medium heat. Shallow fry eggplant slices 2 minutes or until lightly brown, turn over, and continue cooking until the second side is brown and soft.
Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain off excess oil; keep warm until all eggplant slices are cooked, adding more oil as needed.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

To make the stacks:
Cover a baking sheet with foil and coat with cooking spray. Place a large slice of eggplant on the foil and spoon 2 tablespoons of ricotta cheese on top.

Cover with a slice of eggplant. Top with a tomato slice and a slice of mozzarella. Repeat with the remaining eggplant, tomato, and mozzarella slices.


Bake stacks until the cheese melts and the stacks are hot about 15 minutes.


Grilled Pork Chops

2 servings

Spice Rub
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 thin bone-in pork loin chops (about 4 oz each)

Directions

In a bowl, mix together garlic, oil, sugar, salt, paprika, pepper, and cayenne until a paste forms. Coat pork chops with the paste and refrigerate 1 hour (or up to 3).
Heat an outdoor grill or broiler to medium-high. Cook pork, covered if grilling, 5 minutes per side. Let rest 5 minutes before serving.

Sweet Potatoe Salad

Ingredients

2 large sweet potatoes, about 1 1/2 lb, peeled and diced
Salt
1/2 cup thinly sliced celery
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions

Dressing:
½ a large jalapeno pepper or 1 small, seeded and minced
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
2 tablespoons pickle relish
1 tablespoon honey
1 garlic clove, grated
2 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley, plus more for garnish

Directions

Bring a large bot of salted water to a boil, then add the sweet potatoes. Simmer just until fork-tender, about 10 minutes depending upon the size of the potatoes. Drain, gently, and set aside.

In a serving bowl place the celery, and green onions.
Prepare the dressing in a large measuring cup, whisking together all the dressing ingredients.

Add the sweet potatoes to the bowl with the celery, drizzle with the dressing, then toss gently to combine. Taste and season with additional salt/pepper as desired. Serve chilled. Garnish with extra chopped parsley if desired.

Grilled Japanese Eggplant

What Is the Difference Between Japanese Eggplant and Regular Eggplant?
Their smaller size and thinner shape make them look more like a baby zucchini than a big, globe eggplant! Once you cut into it, you’ll find fewer seeds than most eggplant varieties (which also means they’re less bitter, since the seeds are responsible for creating bitter eggplant). The flesh is sweet and creamy with a spongy texture, meaning they’ll soak up marinades and sauces exceptionally well.

Ingredients

Marinade
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus more for brushing
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 a jalapeno pepper, minced

Eggplant
3 Japanese eggplants, about 1 lb total, halved lengthwise
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup Asian plum sauce

Directions

Combine the marinade ingredients in a long dish.{lace the cut eggplant in the marinade and turn them over several times. Season the eggplant with salt and pepper. Set aside for an hour.

Heat an outdoor grill or preheat a grill pan. Remove the eggplant from the marinade. Grill cut side down over high heat until lightly charred, about 2 minutes. Turn the eggplant and cook until lightly charred and tender, about 2 minutes. Brush the cut side of the eggplant with the p;u, sauce, and turn them over to grill for another 2 minutes. Transfer the eggplant to a serving dish and drizzle the remaining plum sauce over the slices.


Here is another post to celebrate all the fresh produce available now in the markets. I received an abundance of white eggplant in my CSA share this week. White eggplant has hard skin when compared to purple eggplant. The skin of the white eggplant should be peeled off. White eggplant has white flesh whereas purple eggplant has a greenish hue. White eggplants come with more seeds but are less acidic, less bitter, and creamier than purple eggplant. This recipe makes a delicious main dish or a side for chicken cutlets or grilled Italian sausage.

Ingredients

2 small white eggplants, 8-10 oz each, stems trimmed off
Olive oil
1/4 cup finely diced onion
¼ cup finely diced banana peppers (mild)
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 slices fresh tomato (Beefsteak tomato slices cut ¼-inch thick and diced
2 slices fresh mozzarella cheese, diced
3 basil leaves, chopped
¼ cup Italian seasoned panko crumbs
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Cut a thin slice of eggplant off the top of each peeled eggplant. Dice the slices.
Hollow out the flesh of the eggplant to create a boat using a melon baller or small spoon, leaving a 1/2-inch of the flesh all around to create a shell. Dice the scooped-out eggplant flesh and combine it with the diced eggplant tops

In a medium skillet heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onions, peppers, and garlic and cook on medium-low heat for about 2-3 minutes, until onions are softened. Add the chopped eggplant and cook about 8-10 minutes. Add the chopped tomato and cook for about 5 minutes, until the tomato breaks down. Season with salt and pepper. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the panko crumbs, mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil. Let cool for about 15 minutes.

 

Oil a small baking dish and place the eggplant boats in the dish. Divide the stuffing evenly between the 2 eggplant boats.
Cover with foil and bake 45 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to cook until the eggplant is tender and the topping is brown about 15-20 minutes.

 


Parmesan Coated Flounder 

Ingredients

2 flounder fillets (1 pound total)
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Directions

Preheat an outdoor grill or preheat the broiler.
Coat a sheet of heavy-duty foil with nonstick olive oil spray.


In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, mustard, and lemon juice. Spread the mixture over both sides of the fillets. Sprinkle each side with shredded Parmesan. Lightly press the cheese into the fish.


Place the foil on the grill or on the broiler pan. Grill the flounder with the cover closed or broil about 8 inches from the heat for about 6 minutes, or until the fish flakes easily with a fork. Remove the fish with a long spatula to individual serving plates.

Grilled Eggplant Stacks

Ingredients

1 small round purple eggplant, peeled
Basil pesto
4 tomato slices
4 fresh mozzarella slices
Salt and Pepper

Directions

Preheat an outdoor grill or the broiler.
Lightly brush the eggplant slices and the tomato slices with basil pesto.
Grill or broil until brown and tender, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer the eggplant to a platter. Grill or broil the tomato slices until hot, about 1 minute per side.

Place a tomato slice followed by a mozzarella slice on top of each eggplant slice. Return the stacks to the grill or the broiler and cook until the cheese begins to melt. Transfer the stacks to a serving platter.

Grilled Summer Squash

Ingredients

8 small yellow summer squash
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat an outdoor grill or the broiler.
Slice squash in half lengthwise. Sprinkle the squash with salt and pepper. Combine the oil and lemon juice and brush on the cut sides of the squash.
Grill or broil squash on medium-high heat for 5-6 minutes until tender. Remove the squash to a serving plate and sprinkle with the chives.


Ingredients

2 whole eggplants, peeled and sliced lengthwise, about 1/4 inch thick, to get about 12 slices total
Salt for the eggplant slices
Flour and Olive oil
2 cups whole milk ricotta cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella, plus extra for the top of the rolls
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese (plus extra for sprinkling)
1 egg
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
3 cups prepared tomato sauce (recipe below), homemade or store-bought
1 loaf Italian bread, for serving

Directions

Combine the egg, ricotta, mozzarella, and parmesan cheeses together in a mixing bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste and the chopped parsley. Mix well and set aside in the refrigerator while you prepare the eggplant.

Place the eggplant slices in a colander and sprinkled them with salt to sweat for 30 minutes. Rinsed the slices with cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Place on a kitchen towel.

Dredge the slices in flour. Heat enough oil in a large skillet to cover the bottom of the pan. Cook the eggplant slices in the pan until lightly brown. Tuen the slices over and cook until the second side is lightly brown. Drain eggplant on paper towels. Repeat the process, adding more oil as needed, until all the slices are fried.

When the eggplant has cooled about 10 minutes, begin the filling process. On each slice, put about 2 tablespoons of ricotta cheese mixture. Spread it on the eggplant and then roll. Repeat with all eggplant slices.

Cover the bottom of a deep baking dish with tomato sauce. Place the eggplant rolls in the bottom of the pan and spread tomato sauce over the top of the eggplant rolls. Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella and grated parmesan cheese. Cover the dish with foil.

 


Bake in a 400-degree F oven for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 15 minutes more. let rest 10 minutes before serving with some crusty Italian bread.

Rollatini Tomato Sauce

Ingredients

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 (28-32-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
2 dried bay leaves
1 tablespoon prepared basil pesto
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Directions

In a large pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until soft and translucent, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add celery and carrots and season with salt and pepper. Saute until all the vegetables are soft, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add tomatoes and bay leaves and simmer uncovered on low heat for 1 hour or until thick. Remove bay leaves and add the unsalted butter.


Italian Sausage Eggplant Bolognese Sauce

Serve this sauce over your favorite pasta. I used pappardelle because the wide noodles hold the sauce.

6-8 servings

Ingredients

1 lb hot Italian sausage, casing removed
1 1/2 cups peeled and diced eggplant (about 1 1/2 pounds)
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped sweet onion
1 large carrot, finely diced
1 celery stalk, finely diced
Kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 cup red wine
1 cup beef broth
1 (26-ounce) container Pomi finely chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup heavy cream or whole milk
12 ounces uncooked pappardelle, rigatoni, bucatini or spaghetti
1/4 cup small fresh basil leaves
Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
Grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add crumbled sausage and diced eggplant; cook until lightly browned.
Add onion, carrots, celery, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; cook 10 minutes or until onion is tender. Add garlic and cook 20 minutes or until eggplant is very tender, stirring occasionally. Add tomato paste; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add wine; cook 1 minute, scraping the pan to loosen browned bits. Add beef broth, tomatoes,1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add crushed red pepper flakes, basil, and cream. Heat until warm.
Cook pasta according to package directions for al dente, adding 1 tablespoon kosher salt to the cooking water. Drain and add the pasta to the pot of sauce. Stir and cook for a few minutes. Place pasta in individual pasta serving bowls and sprinkle with cheese.


Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers

I used a leftover cooked steak. If you do not have any on hand, cook a small steak and slice it to use in this recipe.

Ingredients

1 large green bell pepper, halved lengthwise, seeds removed
1/2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 large onion, sliced
4 ounces of packaged sliced mushrooms
6 ounces cooked steak, thinly sliced
1/2 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 slices provolone cheese

Directions

Preheat oven to 375°F.
Place pepper halves on a rimmed baking sheet or in individual ramekins. Bake until tender but still able to hold their shape, about 30 minutes.
Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, until starting to brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring, until they’re softened and release their juices, about 5 minutes more. Add steak, Italian seasoning, pepper and salt; cook, stirring, until the steak is hot through, 3 minutes more. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in Worcestershire.
Preheat broiler to high. Divide the filling between the pepper halves and top each with a folded slice of cheese. Broil 5 inches from the heat until the cheese is melted and lightly browned 2 to 3 minutes.

Oven Sweet Potato Fries

2 servings

Ingredients

1 large sweet potato (about 12 oz), peeled and cut into thin wedges
2 teaspoons of olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon onion powder

Directions

Preheat oven to 450°F. Toss sweet potato wedges with oil, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and cayenne pepper in a ziplock bag. Spread the wedges out on a rack over a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake until browned and tender about 20 minutes total.


Eggplant Lasagna

Sugo di Pomodoro

Soffritto
1 carrot
Half a medium sweet onion
1 celery stalk
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Sauce
2 garlic cloves, minced
Two 26 oz containers finely chopped Italian tomatoes (Pomi)
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
½ teaspoon crushed red chili flakes
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon crushed black pepper
2 tablespoons sundried tomato paste
1 teaspoon anchovy paste

Eggplant Layer
4 small eggplants (each about 6-7 oz)
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 ½ teaspoons black pepper
¾ cup Italian seasoned panko crumbs
Olive oil

Cheese Layer
3 cups whole milk ricotta cheese
2 eggs, lightly beaten
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup chopped fresh herbs )parsley and basil)
16 oz mozzarella, sliced thin

Directions

For the soffritto
With a sharp knife, finely chop or mince the onions, carrots, and celery. Try to cut the vegetables with uniform sizes to ensure even cooking.
Heat a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add in the olive oil and the soffritto. Reduce the heat to medium-low and sauté the vegetables, stirring often, until they have absorbed most of the olive oil and are tender. Stir in the garlic and stir.

For the sauce
Add in the tomatoes and remaining ingredients, stir to combine. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover the pot partially with the lid. Bring the tomato sauce to a gentle simmer and cook for 1 hour, stirring often.

For the eggplant
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Peel the eggplants and slice into very thin slices. Place all the sliced eggplants in a ziplock plastic bag. Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil and shake the bag. Coat 3 sheet pans with olive oil cooking spray. Arrange eggplant slices on the pan. Sprinkle eggplant on each pan with ½ teaspoon of salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper and ¼ cup of seasoned panko crumbs. Drizzle a little olive oil over the eggplant on all three pans.
Bake for 30 minutes or until the eggplant slices are lightly brown. Switch pans around in the oven after 15 minutes.

For the cheese layer
In a large mixing bowl combine the beaten eggs, ricotta cheese, salt, pepper, garlic powder, Parmesan cheese, and herbs. Mix well and refrigerate until ready to assemble the casserole.
Slice the mozzarella cheese.

To assemble the Eggplant Lasagna
Spray a 13×9 inch baking dish with olive oil cooking spray. Spread 1 cup of tomato sauce on the bottom of the baking dish. Add ⅓ of the eggplant slices. Place ⅓ of the sliced mozzarella on top of the eggplant slices and then spread half of the ricotta cheese mixture over the mozzarella/eggplant layer. Add another ⅓ layer of eggplant slices and spread 1 cup of tomato sauce over the eggplant/ Add ⅓ of the mozzarella slices and the remaining ricotta mixture. Add the remaining eggplant slices topped with 1 cup of the tomato sauce and the remaining mozzarella cheese.
Bake for 30 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before cutting into serving pieces.



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