Contains: Dairy, nightshades. Is: Gluten-free, vegetarian, paleo, not truly Italian but inspired, and something good we grew up with.
You can make this an omnivore dish by adding in some ground beef, or perhaps pepperoni slices. They’re not essential, and Dad would do it either way. A lot depended on what was in the fridge that night. If you do meat, you can eliminate or lessen the amount / types of veggies. Depends on your taste.
I posted about this years ago. In fact, during the first month I started this blog. So, it’s time to update. I hope my recipe write-up skills have improved since then.
Dad came up with the basic idea as a way not to have to bread an eggplant parmesan, but still enjoy eggplant, tomato sauce, and cheese. I am frankly happy with this. (I remember the workplace cafeteria eggplant parm, which involved slicing the eggplant to 1/8th inch thicknesses, apparently with a microtome, slamming all sorts of breading over it, layering it with tomato sludge in a half-hearted matter, topping it with mozzarella and fake parmesan, and thinking we’d enjoy it since there would be no way to taste eggplant over that soggy, cardboard-like breading. BLEAH.)
The above is the layering done for assembling these pizzas, but go with your whims.
Enough already. Here’s the recipe (noting that Dad seldom cooked things even remotely EXACTLY the same way every time he made something…)
Prep Time: 10-15 minutes.
Cook Time: 90 minutes.
Rest Time: Not needed.
Serves: 2 as a main.
- 1 small/medium purple European eggplant/aubergine. You can go larger for serving more people of course. For two people a 1.25 – 1.5 pound (575 – 680 grams eggplant is fine.
- 1 small onion, about 1/3 pound (150 grams), diced
- One can whole peeled tomatoes, about 15 ounces / 425 grams. Coarsely break them up.
- Salt for the drawing of water and bitterness from the eggplant.
- Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste – I’d use about 1.5 teaspoon and adjust up as needed.
- Olive oil for cooking.
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano.
- 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
- Several leaves of fresh basil, chopped.
- 2-4 thinly sliced mushrooms. (Instead, you can substitute with sliced bell peppers, or use pepperoni or pre-cooked sausage slices.)
- 1 ounce melt-able cheese such as Provolone, thinly sliced.
- 3 ounces mozzarella, sliced. Use fresh mozzarella if possible.
You’ll want to cut the ends off the eggplant and discard. Then slice into half inch slices, and set into a colander with salt to draw out bitterness, for about 20-30 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a skillet, simmer the onion in olive oil until translucent, but not brown. Set aside.
In a pot, simmer the tomatoes plus another half a can of water. After simmering for 15 minutes, add the onions and spices, except the basil. (I’ve found I don’t need to add salt here.)Stir occasionally and allow to simmer lightly for another hour. If you need to do so, add water to keep the sauce from drying out. Adjust so that this sauce is thick but not dry. See photo above.
Add the basil, and stir again. Set aside.
During the simmering process, once the eggplant has sat for that 20-30 minutes with salt, take the slices and gently rinse off this salt. Pat dry.
In the skillet, add some olive oil, and lay out the eggplant slices. You may have to do this twice, depending on skillet size – keeping the eggplant one layer thick each.
Pan fry on medium until each side is softened, about 5 or so minutes.
Lay each on your baking pan, and cover each slice with the tomato sauce.
Add the mozzarella on each eggplant slice. .
Add the .mushrooms next, spacing them around.
Add the provolone or other meltable cheese to top this.
Bake in a pre-heated (350 F/ 177 C) oven for about 20 minutes, or until the cheese is oozy soft, and perhaps a little browning has occurred. Don’t let the cheese go burnt.
Serve. (A good side would be toasted garlic bread and and a tossed salad with a light vinaigrette.)
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