(where you skip all the breading)
A refreshed French version which is lighter without losing any of the rich delicious and satisfying flavor.
2 LARGE FIRM EGGPLANTS
PINCH OF KOSHER SALT
2/3 CUP OLIVE OIL
3 TBS BALSAMIC VINEGAR
2 GARLIC CLOVES – minced
FRESHLY GROUND BLACK PEPPER
1 ½ – 2 CUPS MARINARA SAUCE – divided, as needed
1/8 CUP PESTO SAUCE – or more to taste
¾ LB FRESH MOZZARELLA – shredded
4-5 TBS FRESHLY GRATED PARMIGIANO CHEESE – or to taste
PREHEAT OVEN TO 375º.
Slice the eggplants into ½-inch rounds, sprinkle with the salt and toss into a colander and let sit for 30 minutes.
In a large bowl whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, and pepper. Do not rinse the eggplant but toss the slices with the balsamic vinegar and allow to marinate for about 15 – 20 minutes. In a single layer, arrange the slices on a large no -stick baking sheet or two, as necessary, (I cover pan with foil) and broil on a middle rack for 6-8 minutes until nicely browned. Turn the slices over carefully with a spatula and broil for another 4-6 minutes.
Place 2 tablespoons of marinara sauce on the bottom of 4 round, slightly greased au-gratin dishes. Divide the eggplant slices equally among the 4 gratin dishes making 2 layers and top each layer with a little grated cheese and a little sauce. Top each dish with ¼ cup of marinara sauce. Divide the mozzarella equally among the 4 dishes right of top of the sauce, and end with the freshly grated Parmigiano cheese.
Place on a parchment lined baking sheet to catch any drips and bake for 30 minutes or until the marinara sauce is bubbling and the cheese has melted. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10-12 minutes. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon of pesto and serve.
NOTE: I often make this dish as dinner for two when just for my husband and me. It’s easy to cut the ingredients in half. and I use an 8-inch-deep casserole dish. Just add a salad and dinner is complete. Also, I sometimes make this recipe in one small Pyrex dish. That’s what is so good about this recipe – it’s easily adaptable. If you are not partial to pesto or do not have any available, simply do without and it is still delicious.