Recipe: eggplant, cheese and tomato bake

Words: Tracey Sunderland Photos: Vanessa Lewis

Walk Japan

This dish is a household staple at Gemma Romano’s home. Her grandson Anthony likes to eat it as an afternoon snack, sandwiched between two slices of white bread. It is otherwise served with a salad of fresh summer leaves. Use a fleshy, low-acid tomato such as a roma, capri or similar beefsteak.

4–5 large tomatoes
handful of basil leaves
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggplants
extra virgin olive oil, to fry
500g (approximately) tasty, colby or aged
mozzarella cheese
salt and freshly ground pepper
To serve: finely grated parmesan

Firstly, make a cooked tomato passata. Using a small sharp knife, slice the tomatoes directly into a medium pot to collect all the juices. Add basil leaves and salt then cover with a lid and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to simmer for 5 minutes. Uncover and cook for a further 5 minutes or until you have a pulpy sauce.

Preheat oven to 200°C. Cut the eggplant lengthwise into 1cm slices. Heat olive oil in a large fry pan over a medium-high heat and cook the eggplant slices in batches for 2 to 3 minutes each side until golden. Season with salt and pepper.

In a large shallow baking dish, pour in enough passata to cover the base. Place a single layer of eggplant slices over the top. Cut the cheese into 0.5cm slices, and place over the eggplant.

Cover with similar sized pieces of eggplant then pour over the remaining passata. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until cheese has softened and the sauce is thick. Serve with finely grated parmesan. Serves 4.

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