Baked Eggplant with Tomato, Basil and Three Cheeses

This common Italian dish is perfect for an informal lunch, and after recommending it to my friend Sam last weekend who was cooking for visiting family, I instantly wanted to make it myself.

There are many variations of this dish. I’ve taken Tessa Kiros’ and put my own stamp on it.

I make this a little healthier than most recipes, by baking the eggplant slices instead of frying, and substituting most of the mozzarella for goat cheese (which is not only about one third the fat content,  it is also a lot tastier).

Many recipes that involve eggplant call for salting and draining the eggplant pieces before use.  I’ve heard a range of reasons for this – from draining the bitter juices, to stopping the eggplant from absorbing too much oil.  But because I like to save time by removing what I think to be unnecessary steps, I now skip this stage, and I can honestly say that I can’t tell the difference. Plus it makes it much easier to prepare, as you can get on with making the sauce while the eggplants are baking themselves, instead of having to stand over the frypan.

But if you’re convinced that the salting and draining are necessary, then go right ahead, it won’t affect the rest of the recipe.

  • 2 medium sized eggplants, sliced about 1 cm thick
  • 2 x 400 g tins organic chopped tomatoes
  • 120 grams soft goat cheese
  • 1 fresh mozzarella ball,  or about 4-5 of the smaller bocconcini balls
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 4-6 garlic cloves
  • small bunch basil
  • extra virgin olive oil

Heat the oven to 200.  Line two baking trays with baking paper, and brush the paper with olive oil.  Place the eggplant slices on the baking paper, and brush the top side of the slices with oil.

Bake for 15 minutes, turn, brush with more oil, and bake for another 15 minutes.

While the eggplant is cooking, heat about two tablespoons of olive oil, chop two of the garlic cloves and stir in the oil for just a minute or less.  Chop half the basil leaves and add.  Add the tomatoes and some salt and pepper, and simmer for the time it takes the eggplant to cook.

Place a little of the sauce in the bottom of a baking dish, and make a layer with the eggplants. Spoon some sauce over.  Scatter over some torn basil leaves, torn mozzarella, and blobs of goat cheese. Sprinkle over some parmesan cheese.  Repeat until eggplant and sauce are used up.  Slice up the remaining garlic cloves and push into the sauce around the sides of the dish.

Drop the oven temperature to 180 and bake uncovered for half an hour. Serve with some fresh crusty bread to soak up the sauce.

Baz the Wino says:

One look at that bad boy and I feel a need to get my grenache on. We’re eating vegetarian and that calls for an earthy wine, and grenache has earthiness in spades (there’s a pun waiting to be made there but I’m struggling to dig it out).

Barossa Valley winery Turkey Flat is one of the best exponents of the sweeter style of wine made from the grape, with lovely red fruit flavours backed with just the right amount of savoury to round off the tomatoes in this dish, but not so much as to hide the basil, while the oak is nicely understated. Find it for about $20 at Dan’s.

Another well worth a look is d’Arenberg’s Custodian Grenache – old McLaren Vale vines produce a wine of beautiful concentration and earthy notes that will have you wondering how much the truffles cost. An absolute steal at $20.

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2 thoughts on “Baked Eggplant with Tomato, Basil and Three Cheeses

  1. Tess September 24, 2010 at 8:04 am Reply

    Not being a huge dairy fan, I have often made an eggplant lasagne without cheese but using tons of lovely homemade garlicky tomato sauce with heaps of fresh (just picked) herbs – and a tip I got from Sarah T was to throw in a handful of pine nuts at every layer. Lately I have also added fresh chopped chilli to the sauce.

    • theabbotsfordkitchen September 24, 2010 at 10:00 am Reply

      Nice one Tess. Goat cheese is a little less “cheesy”, you might like just a little. 🙂

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