I have been laser-focused on my vegetable garden this summer. The upside to all this east coast rain is a bountiful garden. I just harvested my eggplant so my weekend menu will include my mom’s Baby Eggplant, Summer Tomato and Basil Casserole from The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook (p. 164). Take advantage of your local farmers’ markets and stock up on these ingredients. Enjoy!
16 baby eggplants (each 4 inches long)
4 cloves garlic, cut into slivers
Pinch of salt
4 medium-size bunches fresh basil, stems removed
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 ripe large tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch slices
7 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 bunch fresh thyme, leaves chopped, or 2 tablespoons dried thyme
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
Cut the stems from the eggplants and cut each one lengthwise in half.
Place the eggplants, skin side down, on a cookie sheet. Make a slit in the center of each eggplant half and insert a garlic sliver and a small basil leaf. Sprinkle with pepper to taste and drizzle 1/4 cup oil over all the eggplant.
Cover the pan tightly with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and turn the oven down to 350°F.
Place 1 layer of eggplant, skin side down, in a shallow 13×9 inch casserole. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice and pepper to taste. Arrange a layer of half the tomatoes over the eggplant and sprinkle with 3 tablespoons of the Parmesan. Sprinkle half the thyme evenly over the cheese and completely cover with a layer of basil. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the oil.
Repeat layers, using the remaining layer ingredients including all the Parmesan.
Cover the baking pan tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes. Garnish with the parsley and serve immediately.
Yields 8 servings