inspired by Mamma Agata
2-3 medium eggplants (or 5-6 small)
14 or 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
basil and oregano
8 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
8 oz. smoked gouda, sliced
parmesan cheese, for grating
1. Peel the eggplant into zebra stripes, and slice lengthwise. Partially peeling the eggplant leaves enough skin to keep it from falling apart, but takes away some of the toughness.
2. In a colander, layer eggplant slices and sprinkle with kosher salt. Allow to sit over the sink for at least an hour. The salt draws out some of the liquid and bitterness.
3. Mamma Agata fries her eggplant, and while that can be delicious, I usually roast mine. Lay the eggplant slices in a single layer on baking sheets topped with parchment paper, foil, or cooking spray. I use parchment and give it a quick shot of spray. Roast at 400 for about 20 minutes, or until they are browned and softened.
4. Meanwhile, make your tomato sauce. Mine was a simple mixture of crushed tomatoes, garlic, and fresh basil and oregano. You can use jarred sauce of course, but I'm cheap, and homemade tastes better anyway.
5. Begin layering your dish. In the bottom of a baking dish, spread a thin layer of sauce. Layer eggplant slices, mozzarella, gouda, parmesan, and basil. We aren't shy about cheese in this dish. That what makes it so good. Add more sauce and repeat as many times as you can depending on the size of your dish. On the top layer, spread the sauce and sprinkle with only parmesan cheese.
6. Bake at 325 for 20 minutes, increase the heat to 400 for 10 minutes, and then turn off the oven and let it sit for 10 more minutes. After removing, allow to sit for 30 minutes to completely blend the flavors. You can skip that step, but it won't be as good.
Eat it and pretend you're in Italy.
|Lemon Grove at Mamma Agata's, Ravello, Italy|