One of the many wonderful things about Spring and Summer is the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables at the grocery stores and Farmer's Markets. The smells make my head spin and I don't know what I want to cook first. For some reason I associate eggplant with Sundays. While eggplants are very versatile, it’s sometimes hard to know what to do with them beyond just cooking them in a pot of water, mashing them up and seasoning with breadcrumbs and cheese and calling it a day. I love roasting them until they are crisp and adding delicious ingredients, allowing them to bake and absorb all of the wonderful flavors surrounding them. To me, that brings out the natural culinary beauty and taste of the eggplant much more than allowing it to become soggy in a bunch of liquid.
Eggplant Parmesan -
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Peel 2 eggplants and slice them horizontally about 1/4-inch thick. Season the eggplant slices with salt and pepper. Place slices on a cookie sheet lined with foil (for easy clean up) and spray with non stick cooking spray. Drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil over each slice.
Bake eggplant slices in a pre-heated 450 degree oven for about 10 to 15 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven to cool and lower heat to 350 degrees.
In a 8x12 pan place the four largest slices, evenly spaced apart. Over each slice, spread about 1/2 cup of tomato sauce, then sprinkle with a teaspoon of freshly sliced basil. Place a thin slice of fresh mozzarella over each and sprinkle with a little grated parmesan/romano cheese combination. Repeat the layering with the smaller slices until all ingredients are used.
You will need a total of 2 cups of your favorite spaghetti or tomato sauce, 1 lb. of fresh mozzarella, 1/4 cup of chopped fresh basil and about 1/2 cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese mixed with 1/4 cup of Pecorino Romano cheese.
Sprinkle the top with about 1 cup of seasoned Italian bread crumbs and a little parmsesan and romano cheese and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes until the bread crumbs look toasty and the sauce is bubbly.
All I can say is, you will be speechless!