My wife brought home an eggplant from the farmer’s market a few days ago and asked I make a meal without meat this week. I was in the mood for pasta anyway so here is what I did.
While making dinner the night before, I took the eggplant sliced it about ¼ of an inch thick, sprinkled some table salt on both sides and laid the circles on a wire rack over a sheet pan, covered it and placed it in the fridge overnight. The reason for doing this is to “sweat” the bitter juices out of the eggplant. I feel this really helps the flavor of the eggplant come through better and be less bitter.
The next day I took the eggplant out of the fridge, quickly rinsed the salt off the circles, dipped them in flour, then egg wash and then in seasoned bread crumbs.
I fried them in a large non stick pan with a little olive oil over medium heat. Set those aside on a wire rack to cool.
Now let’s build the stack. Start with some of your tomato sauce on the bottom of a pan that can go in the oven. That’s so it doesn’t stick to the pan. Then place an eggplant disk on top of the sauce. Top that, in my case with some left over pesto sauce and some tomato sauce and on top of that, some mozzarella cheese. Repeat 3 or 4 more times. Make sure not to put the cheese on the top layer just yet.
Set the oven to 325F. Place the eggplant stack in the oven for about 20-25 minutes to cook while you are boiling the pasta to go with the meal. After the stack is thoroughly heated, pull it out and top with some more of the mozzarella cheese and leave it in the oven until the cheese is nice and melted.
Pour yourself a nice glass of Italian red wine, sit down and eat your Italian feast.