1 large eggplant
Salt, to taste
1/4 cup olive oil
11 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced
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2 cups tomato sauce
12 to 18 fresh basil leaves
1 ounce Parmigiana-Reggiano, grated (1/4 cup)
Yield: 4 to 6 stacks, depending on size of eggplant
1. Cut eggplant crosswise into slices about 1/4-inch thick. Sprinkle with salt on both sides. Place in colander over the sink or a bowl to drain for 30 minutes. Preheat the broiler or grill to high. Adjust the rack so that it is 3 inches from the heat source.
2. Rinse off eggplant slices with cold water, place on paper towels to drain, and pat dry. Brush 1 side with olive oil. Broil on a sheet pan in a single layer, oiled side up, for about 5 minutes, or until the slices are limp and golden brown. Turn over, brush the other side with oil, and continue to cook until golden brown. If grilling, cook on both sides, starting with the oiled side down. Brush the slices with oil before turning over. When limp and browned, remove from heat and place eggplant slices on a plate.
3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a shallow baking pan.
4. Make individual stacks. Place 1 slice of eggplant in the pan. Top with 1 slice of mozzarella, 1 tablespoon of tomato sauce, and 1 basil leaf. Repeat the layering, leaving the basil off the top layer. Continue to make identical stacks until all the eggplant and cheese are used.
Place the pan in the oven and bake 20 minutes, or until the eggplant is tender. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the Parmigiano. Turn the oven to broil and return the pan to the oven. Broil for 3 minutes, or until the cheese on top is golden brown and bubbling. Remove and let stand for 5 minutes.
To serve, place 1 stack on each serving plate. Top each with a basil leaf. Serve additional sauce on the side, if desired. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 4 to 6 stacks, depending on size of eggplant.