This is not an exact recipe. I forgot to keep track of how much of everything I was tossing in while I was doing it. So I am going to tell you WHAT to put in, and you decide how much! Add a little and taste!
This is a seriously impressive dish. Made with fresh homemade marinara and fresh mozzarella. The only thing that could make it MORE impressive is if you grew the eggplant yourself. Or made your own breadcrumbs. Or pressed your own olives (okay, maybe not that one).
I wasn’t going to add this recipe because it’s not really a set recipe, but then I decided to, because, actually, I think the best way to learn to cook is to experiment in the kitchen. Especially when you have guidelines.
I’m not going to lie to you: it’s labor intensive. But it is NOT difficult! And it’s a forgiving recipe, so if you add too much of something it won’t hurt, or if you add too little, you can just add more. When I was making it I added too much honey and so I needed to add more salt.
It’s all about adapting!
Here’s the printable un-recipe:
- 1 large eggplant
- 3 lbs tomatoes
- 1 normal sized carrot
- 1/2 red or white onion
- 3-4 garlic cloves
- 2 large sprigs fresh basil
- Dried oregano, parsley, allspice, salt, and pepper
- 1 can 8oz tomato sauce
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- Italian breadcrumbs
- A tiny bit of parmesan cheese (optional)
- Mozzarella (preferably fresh)
- Olive oil
- Heat your oven to 450. You need 1 large eggplant, sliced length-wise into thin-ish pieces. You could also do rings if you want. Maybe like 1/2 inch thick either way. Apparently eggplants are impossible to peel, so I’d leave the skin on. Just wash it well.
- Then put the eggplant pieces on a baking sheet, drizzle/brush them with olive oil and then sprinkle them with salt/pepper. Put them in for 20 minutes. In the end they should be mostly tender, so check them at 10 or 15 minutes to test. Every oven is different, so once they’re tender take them out so that they won’t fall apart in the breading stage.
- While that’s cooking you need to shop up 1/2 of a red or white onion, and mince up 3-4 garlic cloves. Put those in a skillet with a little olive oil and sauté them until they’re tender and fragrant. You don’t want them to brown.
- Then you need 3 pounds of tomatoes, with 1/2 finely diced up and the other half blended or food processed into a liquid. But those in a skillet over medium-low heat. You want them to slowly simmer, not boil, so that some of the liquid reduces off.
- And don’t ask me why this works but it does: Peel 1 normal-size carrot and toss it into the tomatoes whole. Just leave it. It takes away some acidity.
- You want to add in some fresh basil (best way to do it is to take the leaves off the stem and then roll them up into a tight little roll, and then chop slices off so you get little ribbons). I used 2 big sprigs. You can also use dried but it won’t taste the same. I used the rest as dried though, fresh basil is just especially potent. Throw that in the pan.
- Then toss in a little dried parsley and oregano (I don’t like oregano, I went light on this), and some allspice (if you don’t have allspice you can use a clove/nutmeg/cinnamon mix or just nutmeg/cinnamon, it’ll be a little sweeter, but it works), and then some black pepper. Mix it all around.
- Let that continue to simmer, if it reduces too much (mine did) add an 8 oz can of tomato sauce and 1 tablespoon of tomato paste.
- Once it is the right consistency, take the carrot out and toss it, taste it, and then add honey and salt to taste.
- Once the timer goes off, take the eggplant out and let it sit for a minute or two.
- Take out some italian seasoned breadcrumbs and cover the strips evenly in it. I use the progresso brand. You want to cover both sides, but be careful flipping the strips because they’re delicate.
- Then toss it back in for about 10 minutes.
- Once the timer goes off, take the eggplants out and turn the oven off and turn the broiler on (mine heats super fast, so I put them together first, but each oven is different).
- Sprinkle a tiny amount of parmesan on them (I just use the shaker kind, I’m lazy). Then cover them in a spoonful of sauce and top them with mozzarella. I encourage you to use slices of fresh mozzarella. But if you use regular mozzarella, I would shred it, not slice it. Then just toss that back under the broiler until the cheese melts.