Saturday, August 8, 2009

Eggplant Fans

This is a dish I based on a recipe from Lidia Bastianich cookbook Lidia's Italian- American Kitchen. Lidia makes this as a side dish with 2 small eggplants to serve 4, here I do it as a vegetarian main dish. I cut back on the mozzarella and added a little more parmesan to give it more flavor and less fat.

1 eggplant, 16 to 20 oz
8 oz fresh mozzarella
2 Large tomatoes cut into 4 slices each
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp marjoram
12 leaves basil, cut into fine ribbons
6 tbs finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1 cup Tomato Sauce

Preheat oven to 350˚.

Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise, leaving the stem attached. Then cut each half from the tip back to the stem. Spread the fingers and sprinkle salt over all of the exposed flesh and set aside on paper towel for 15 minutes. This will draw out some of the moisture and some of the bitter flavor. Salting is generally only necessary on older, larger eggplants (those with brown seeds).

While the eggplant is degorging (having the moisture drawn out of it) mix bread crumbs with herbs and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with nonstick spray. Cover the bottom of the baking dish with a thin layer of tomato sauce, using 1/2 to 3/4 of the sauce.

After eggplant has set for 15 minutes wipe off salt and water with paper towel. Then lightly oil the eggplant. Put the eggplant in the baking dish and fan the fingers apart. Between each finger put a tomato slice and a slice of mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle each eggplant with the breadcrumb mixture. Bake for 30 minutes. Turn oven up to 450˚ and bake for 10 minutes longer until the cheese gets bubbly and the breadcrumbs brown. Remove from oven.

Take remaining tomato sauce and spread over the bottom of the plates you are serving the eggplant fans on. Remove eggplant fan from baking dish and set on the tomato sauce covered plate.

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