Prep 30 mins
Cook 45 mins
I know you're probably thinking this recipe looks way too long to be bothered with but let me tell you it isn't as hard as it looks and it's definitely worth the effort. The eggplant turns out so soft it almost melts in your mouth and the cheese is the crowning touch. Perfect as a side dish or a main vegetarian course with salad.
- 3 large eggplants
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large red onion, chopped
- 2 celery ribs, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1⁄2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 (400 g) can chopped tomatoes
- 6 cherry tomatoes or 2 large tomatoes, chopped
- 1⁄2 cup water
- 1⁄4 cup butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 300 ml milk
- 1 tablespoon dried basil
- 150 g buffalo mozzarella, thickly sliced
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 400°F or 200°C.
- Trim the eggplants and slice into 1/2 cm thick rounds.
- In a bowl or large plate, sprinkle slices with salt and leave for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, line two baking sheets with tin foil and oil lightly with some of the olive oil.
- When eggplants are ready, wash or brush off the salt and lay the slices next to one another on the trays.
- Brush tops lightly with olive oil before putting in the oven for 10 minutes.
- Take out, turn over and bake for a further five minutes or until all the slices are soft and lightly browned.
- While the eggplant is cooking, use remaining oil to fry the onion and celery in a frying pan or saucepan.
- After 1-2 minutes add the water, canned and fresh tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, thyme and garlic.
- Simmer until sauce is quite thick and dry, about 5 minutes.
- The last thing to make is the white sauce.
- In a small pot, melt the butter.
- Stir in the flour and mix until blended.
- Then add the milk and cook over a low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened.
- Now for the final step- assembly!
- Put a little bit of tomato sauce on the bottom of a casserole dish (lined with tin foil for easy clean up).
- Add a layer of eggplant, a layer of tomato sauce, some basil and then some white sauce.
- Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- Continue with another layer of eggplant, tomato sauce and so on, making sure to keep enough white sauce at the end to finish off the dish.
- Once you have poured over the last of the white sauce, top with slices of mozzarella and bake for 20 minutes or until cheese is golden.
This was delicious. The Eggplants were creamy and the combination of the mozzarella cheese on top absolutely great. When I make red sauce and then white sauce for various bakes, I use the same pot. First I make the red sauce then empty the pot and continue making the white sauce in the remains. This makes a pink "white sauce" that is very tasteful and adds to the final result.
This was most delightful. We had this as a main course and all liked it very much (even the kids!). Like a lasagna in the layering and saucing and really, really a must try. The eggplant was silken and did melt in the mouth and the cheese layer on top was yummy and crusty.