Mangiare per vivere e non vivere per mangiare - Italian proverb
Eat to live and not live to eat
When you say Italy, It is impossible not to think about delicious Italian food. This impressive Italian meal is perfect to serve for 6 to 8 people.
2 pounds small, firm eggplants, preferably 6 to 8 ounces each
1 Tbsp., plus 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
1 1/2 pounds ripe plum tomatoes
1 pound young pecorino or low-moisture mozzarella, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, loosely packed to measure, chopped
1/4 tsp. peperoncino flakes, or to taste
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 large onions (about 1 1/4 pounds), peeled, sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
6 plump garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
For the bread crumb topping
1 cup dry bread crumbs
1 1/2 Tbsp. chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 cup freshly grated pecorino (or half pecorino and half Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano, for a milder flavor)
Grated zest of a small lemon (about 1 tsp.)
2 pinches kosher salt
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
For serving (optional)
Fresh basil leaves, shredded
Trim the stem and base closures of every eggplant. With a vegetable peeler, shave off strips of skin the long way, making a zebra-striped example all around. Cut the eggplants across into 1/2-inch-thick sections. Salt the cuts on both sides, utilizing about a tablespoon, and layer them in the colander, set in a bowl or the sink. Place a supper plate over the heaped cuts and weight it with jars or other heavy articles to press out the vegetable fluid. Give the rounds a chance to deplete for 30 minutes to 60 minutes, then wash them and pat dry with paper towels.
Trim the stem end of the plum tomatoes and cut them down the middle transversely. Crush the parts over a strainer set in a bowl, scratching out and getting the seeds in the strainer and gathering the tomato juice in the bowl. Cut the tomatoes into 1/2-inch pieces, put them all in a bowl and toss with the mozzarella, chopped basil, peperoncino, the rest of the 3/4 teaspoon salt and 4 tablespoons of the olive oil.
Brush the bottom and sides of the oven safe dish with the olive oil. Lay the onion rounds in the base in one layer, with the garlic cloves scattered among them and drizzle them with the rest of the olive oil. Lay the eggplant slices over the onions in an even layer. Distribute the tomato and mozzarella pieces equally on top of the eggplant and shower the gathered tomato juice and pieces everywhere. Put the bread morsels and all the dry seasonings in a bowl, toss to mix, then sprinkle over them the 2 tablespoons olive oil, and toss well until the pieces are equitably saturated. Sprinkle them equitably over the top of the eggplant, tomato and mozzarella layer.
Tent the preparing dish with a sheet of aluminum foil, angling it so it doesn't touch the top of the food. Set the dish on the cooking sheet, put in the stove and heat for 45 minutes until the juices are bubbling effectively. Remove the foil, and keep cooking for an additional 30 minutes, until the eggplant is caramelized on the edges. Make sure that a knife can cut cleanly through the dish and the bread crumb topping is adequately cooked.
Give the eggplant a chance to rest for 20 minutes before serving.
Serve as you would lasagna, cutting bits with a blade and lifting them out with a wide spatula into warm, shallow dishes. We also recommend sprinkling fresh basil over each portion.
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