a very traditional version that has been with my famiglia for as long as I can remember. No breading or frying , this reminds me of how Italians showcase the true flavors of an ingredient with little fuss but in the most delicious way. —cucina di mammina
medium size italian eggplant
batch of homemade marinara sauce
fresh basil leaves, cleaned & trimmed
fresh grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
homemade garlic & parsley toasted breadcrumbs
salt and pepper
optional add-ins: béchamel sauce or 8-10 oz. container of fresh whole milk ricotta cheese
Wash and dry the eggplants and peel most of the skin off (leave small strips for flavor and visual appeal.) Slice the eggplant on lengthwise into 1/4 thick slices and place on a parchment covered baking tray.
Fill parchment lined trays with the slices and season with salt, pepper and a light drizzle of olive oil over the top. Bake in the oven until the slices are almost fork-tender. Remove and place on a large platter to cool a bit.
Assemble your laying items (the marinara, fresh basil, grated parmigiana, and more items if desired.) I used a light dose of béchamel sauce to add a touch of creaminess for a winter presentation.
Using a large oven casserole baking dish, drizzle a small amount of olive oil and spoon in some of the sauce at the bottom of the baking dish. Start laying the eggplant slices in one direction into the dish until the sauce is covered.
Spoon a bit of the sauce and sprinkle a good amount of the parmigiana, layer some fresh basil and add any other additional items at this point (place small spoonfuls of the béchamel or dollop small spoonfuls of ricotta.)
Continue in this layering fashion, starting again with the eggplant slices and so on. Remember to place the eggplant in the opposite direction (side to side vs. top to bottom in the baking dish) as you create new layers. This makes it easier to slice when baked, the slices will not slide all over and lose their form.
Once the layers are complete, finish off the top with a good amount of the marinara, grated parmigiana cheese and to finish, the toasted bread crumbs which will create a golden crispy topping at the finish.
Loosely cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and place in a preheated 425 degree fahrenheit oven for about 25-35 minutes, remove the foil about 10-15 minutes before end of the cooking time. Continue to bake until the golden and bubbly on the top (cooking times can vary depending on the size and depth of your baking dish and the heat intensity of your oven.)
Remove from the oven and place on counter top to cool a bit (do not slice into while steaming hot as it will disassemble easily making for poor presentation.)
Serve this immediately with additional grated parmigiana and fresh basil if desired. I love to eat this with crusty bread and a fresh vegetable salad (assorted lettuce greens, arugula, heart of palm, artichoke hearts, tomato, cukes and olives) with my personal dressing of olive oil, homemade red wine vinegar and salt to taste.