Vegetables don’t excite me, as a rule. This dish is an exception. Based on the classic Italian eggplant parmigiana, this baked dish consists of layers of eggplant slices, a home-cooked tomato sauce with bacon and cheese. Omit the bacon from the recipe, or substitute mushrooms, and you have a wonderful vegan dish.
I must warn you that this is a photo-intensive entry. There are 11 photos in this set and I did not paginate the entry so that you can just scroll up and down for easy reference. I normally don’t like long pages but I want to get the maximum effect on this one. I went all the way with the photography because… We’re still not done with the cooking videos. My husband isn’t too happy with them because he says they’re “too dark.” In short, we’re installing additional lights in the kitchen.
So, be a little patient if the page loads more slowly than usual.
3 large eggplants (I used the round kind instead of the longish ones so that there would be less pieces to fry)
100 grams of smoked bacon
2 large white onions, chopped
half a clove of garlic, peeled and chopped (I cheated; I used bottled fried garlic)
1 can of stewed tomatoes
a handful of fresh basil, torn into small pieces
1 large bell pepper, trimmed and chopped
about 3/4 cup of olive oil, perhaps more
225 gram pack of your favorite cheese (half cut into slices; the other half, grated)
about a cup of bread crumbs
Trim the ends of the eggplants and cut diagonally into 1/4 to 1/3 inch thick slices.
Heat 1/4 c. of olive oil in a non-stick frying pan. Fry the sliced eggplants in batches until lightly browned.
Flip them over for even browning. Eggplants absorb oil like sponge absorbs water so you will need to add more olive oil with every batch. When all the eggplant slices are nicely browned, place them on a plate and set aside. You want them to cool a bit for easy handling later.
Reheat whatever olive oil remains in the pan. Cut the bacon into small pieces and add to the oil. Cook for about a minute then add the onions and garlic. Cook until the onions start to soften.
Add the chopped bell pepper and continue cooking for about 2 minutes.
Pour in the liquid from the can of stewed tomatoes. With your hand, crush the whole tomatoes straight into the pan. Throw in the basil leaves. Stir. Season with salt, lots of freshly ground pepper and a teaspoonful of sugar to cut the acidity of the tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes.
Line the bottom of an oven proof pan with the fried eggplant slices.
Cover with half of the tomato-bacon sauce.
Add slices of cheese.
Sprinkle bread crumbs over the cheese slices.
Arrange the remaining eggplant slices on top of the cheese. Pour in the remaining half of the tomato-bacon sauce. Top with grated cheese and more bread crumbs.
Bake in a preheat 175oC oven for 20 minutes or until the top is lightly browned. Let rest for at least 15 minutes before cutting and serving.
Happy eating. :)