Eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, & loads of fresh herbs are ready for harvest during this time of year, but when your garden produces more than you can eat & give away to friends, family, & neighbors, this recipe is an excellent one to utilize all those fresh garden goods!
My little garden in the city has managed to produce 27 pounds of fresh heirloom & cherry tomatoes in just a few days this week alone! Yikes! What to do with all those tomatoes!? Share them is my 1st thought, but enjoying the “fruits” of labor is the tastiest part of growing your own garden; however, it’s nearly impossible to eat that many tomatoes fresh before they rot, so why not cook with them!?
Someone special gave me this recipe a few years ago, & when tomatoes aren’t in season, I use the original version of the recipe they gave me using chunky marinara sauce or a combination of marinara & diced tomatoes, but when my garden is bubbling over with garden goodies, I like to sub out the shelf stable tomatoes for fresh! Either way, it’s delicious!
3 medium sized eggplants sliced longways into 1/2 inch thick slices
Olive oil, salt, & pepper (for roasting & seasoning eggplant)
2 pounds fresh tomatoes, sliced into 1/4 inch thick slices (or 32oz jar marinara of choice)
1 to 2 cups fresh basil
1 to 2 cups fresh oregano
2T fresh thyme (optional)
4oz grated Parmesan
1 to 2 fresh cayenne peppers (or crushed red/cayenne pepper, as desired)
Salt & pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice eggplant & place on baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil & sprinkle with salt & pepper on both sides. Place in 400 degree oven & roast till tender & browned, turning 1/2 way through. Alternatively, may grill eggplant directly on grill, which is often how I cook it when I make this recipe.
While eggplant is baking, prepare tomatoes, if using fresh. Spray 8x13 or 9x13 pan (or coat with olive oil), & mash 1/4 of the tomatoes (or spread a thin layer of tomato sauce) in the bottom of the baking dish.
Once eggplant is finished baking, remove from oven, & turn oven temp down to 350 degrees. Place 1/2 of the roasted eggplant over thin layer of mashed tomatoes (or marinara). Top eggplant with 1/2 of the grated Parmesan & add 1 to 2 cups of fresh basil leaves. Place 1/2 of what’s left of the tomato slices (or marinara) on top of the basil leaves. Season tomatoes with salt, pepper, & cayenne pepper, as desired. Layer with 1 to 2 cups of fresh oregano (& 2T fresh thyme, if desired) leaves. Sprinkle with last 1/2 of grated Parmesan. Top with last 1/2 of roasted eggplant. Layer with last 1/2 of sliced tomatoes (or marinara), & season again with salt, pepper, & cayenne pepper, as desired. Top with 8oz mozzarella & bake at 350 degrees for 35-45min or until browned. Remove from oven, let cool, & top with fresh basil, if desired. Serves 4.
I like to serve this meal with garlic bread & a nice glass of red wine. When using fresh tomatoes to make this meal, the parmigiana may have extra liquid in the baking dish. I like to spoon the extra liquid into my serving bowl & dip my garlic bread in it! Super yummy! Buon appetito! Enjoy!