Eggplant baked with tomato sauce
An Israeli twist on classic eggplant Parmigiana.
Just now, Israeli markets are bursting with crimson tomatoes, deep-purple eggplants and beautiful golden onions. The local fresh garlic is still to be found in the markets, its papery peels formed but moist inside, and it’s pungent. There are many tasty ways to combine those vegetables, but a lovely dish of eggplant in tomato sauce with cheese must be one of the most delicious. It takes almost no time to prepare, and while it’s cooking, you can fix a big, leafy salad to go along with it.
If you’re in a hurry, use your favorite commercial sauce – jarred is better than canned, any day. But I suggest making your own tomato sauce, so easy to blend up and just stir occasionally while it’s cooking. There’s no way to imitate that rich, homemade taste. The recipe’s below.
Traditional eggplant Parmigiana calls for frying the eggplant in plenty of olive oil. There’s a lighter way, which is baking the slices, and saving the superb Israeli olive oil for merely dribbling over them. The layered vegetables bound with melting cheese combine in truly Mediterranean flavors that recall silver-green olive trees on dusty hillsides and sipping chilled rose wine. Try it. If you’re fond of eggplant, you’ll love this dish.
- 1 medium onion, chopped coarsely
- 3 large, ripe, juicy tomatoes, chopped coarsely
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 sprig fresh oregano herb or 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, or 1/2 teaspoon dried za’atar herb
- Slices of halumi or mozzarella cheese, 1 per slice of eggplant.
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan or other sharp cheese
- 1 large eggplant
- 1/2 cup flour seasoned with 1/4 teaspoon salt, for coating
- Olive oil
For the tomato sauce:
For the eggplant:
Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
Prepare the sauce:
Blend the onions, tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper in a blender or food processor until only slightly chunky.
Pour into a medium pan. Add the tomato paste, water, bay leaf and oregano. Stir well.
Cook, covered, over medium heat until the mixture simmers. Lower the heat and continue cooking, uncovered, until the sauce is thick and savory; about 1/2 hour.
Adjust salt and pepper if desired.
In the meantime, slice the eggplant thickly. Rinse the slices and drain.
Drag the eggplant slices through the seasoned flour and place them on a generously greased baking pan. Or line the pan with baking parchment.
Dribble a little olive oil over each eggplant slice.
Bake for 15 minutes or until tender and getting crisp at the edges. Don’t turn the oven off yet.
Remove the bay leaf from the sauce.
Place a slice of halumi or mozzarella over each eggplant slice. Cover with a large spoonful of tomato sauce. Cover each slice with grated cheese.
Bake the slices 5-10 minutes, or until the halumi or mozzarella is melting.
Serve hot, with lemonade for the kids and the aforementioned chilled rose wine for the grownups. (Beer is good, too.) This recipe is easily doubled.
Related Topics: Mediterranean