Sicilian Style Baked Eggplant

Sicilian Style Baked Eggplant Casserole by Ric Orlando

When is a Parm, not a Parm? This hearty vegetarian dish is lighter and lower calorie than your basic parm because the eggplant is not fried or even sauteed. The slices are simply roasted. Also the Mozzarella only goes on the top; the other layers are dressed with only sauce and Romano cheese.

This is gluten free dish and is a year round party pleaser!

unbreaded eggplant parm..baked...delish!


I use 2 cookie sheets to get the eggplant done all at once, but if you only have one, it will need to be

baked in two batches.

Also, In my kitchen,  have a clear delineation between Pecorino Romano (tangy sheep’s milk) and

Parmigiano (sweet cow’s milk) cheese and their best applications. Feel free to use what makes you

happy but remember, I am watching! 

Makes a 10x10 casserole dish

3 medium to large eggplants

Kosher salt

Extra Virgin olive oil

1/2 cup or more grated Pecorino Romano cheese, as needed

2 4 oz balls fresh, wet mozzarella

2 cups Sicilian tomato sauce (see recipe below) or your own basic red sauce

Preheat oven to 350f.

Remove about 1 inch from the  top and bottom of each eggplant.

You can choose to peel or not, that is your prerogative.

Slice the eggplant lengthwise into medium thick slices, about 1/2 inch thick. 

Brush your cooking sheet(s) with Evoo well and then sprinkle lightly with kosher salt.

Lay eggplant slices on the sheet, not overlapping to fill the sheets.

Brush the eggplant with olive oil and lightly season with salt.

Bake at 350 for about 15-20 minutes, or until the eggplant is tender and lightly golden. 

Remove from the oven and allow to rest a few minutes before assembling the casserole.


healthy roasted eggplant slices

<Alternately, the eggplant can be sliced and grilled>

Brush your casserole pan with olive oil. 

Make a layer of eggplant to cover the bottom of the pan.

Spoon on just enough sauce to coat the eggplant, not too much.

Sprinkle with Pecorino.

Repeat until all the eggplant is used. I try to get four layers.

Now ladle a little more sauce over the top layer, sprinkle more Pecorino and then tear or slice your

fresh mozzarella and top the eggplant with it.

Bake 20-30 minutes or until the mozz is getting gold spots and the sauce is bubbling.

Enjoy right away, or allow it to rest for a while for ease of slicing.



Sicilian Sauce? What’s  the diff?

Tomato sauce in Italian booking is not just tomato sauce. There is ragu, sugo, succo, marinara,

filetto pan sauce, gravy and all have different applications. In a dish like this a basic tomato sauce

does the trick and the Sicilian method, being slightly sweeter is perfect.  Google the Sicilian Estrato,

or tomato paste. It is a beautiful component of Sicilian cooking and brings a sweetness to the sauce

without having to add sugar. 

Ingredients

EVOO

Salt

1 medium clove of garlic, smashed

1 small onion, diced (about ¼ cup)

2 heaping tablespoons tomato paste

1 20 oz can good quality crushed tomatoes (not puree)

1-2 fresh bay leaves ( available in the produce section, freeze what you don't use)

Pinch of crushed red pepper

In a small heavy pot add the olive oil, onions and garlic.

Turn heat to medium high and add a two finger pinch of salt.

Saute briefly until the onions are soft and shiny, picking up juts a hint of gold color around the edges.

Add the tomato paste and stir it in well. 

Saute the tomato paste into the vegetables for a few minutes until you begin to smell the aroma

of the tomato paste caramelizing.

Add the crushed tomatoes. Add 1 cup of water to the can, swish it around and add it to the pot.

Add the bay leaves and bring the sauce to a boil. 

Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer briskly for 20-30 minutes or a little longer.

Add a pinch of crushed pepper near the end of cooking.

Yum!









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