5 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. salt and pepper seasoning
3large eggplants, sliced lengthwise in halves
1large fresh tomato, finely diced
1/3 cup green onions, sliced
1/3 cup parsley, minced
2 tsp. Frank Davis Sicilian Seasoning
1 tsp. Frank Davis Sprinkling Spice
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
3/4 cup Romano cheese, shredded
1 Tbsp. butter or margarine
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 dozen Pete's Italian Sausage Rounds*
Saltine crackers

First, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Then take a heavy aluminum, shallow sheet pan and brush it liberally with two tablespoons of the extra virgin olive oil. When the oil is spread evenly over the bottom of the pan, generously sprinkle the salt and pepper seasoning atop the oil and set the pan aside momentarily.

Now take the eggplants, trim away the stems, and slice them in halves lengthwise. Then place them cut-side-down on the sheet pan and slide the pan into the oven. At this point, you want to bake the eggplant halves uncovered for about 45 minutes, or until an ice pick pierces the vegetable easily through and through.

When the eggplants are tender, remove them from the oven, allow them to cool just enough to handle, and then scrape all the pulp away from the skin. Now coarsely chop the pulp and transfer it to a large mixing bowl, along with the remaining three tablespoons of olive oil, the fresh tomato, half of the green onions, half of the parsley, and as much Sicilian Seasoning and Sprinkling Spice as needed to suit your tastes.

At this stage, fold in all of the grated Parmesan cheese so that it mixes uniformly and binds with the eggplant. Then transfer the mix to a lightly buttered 10 X 12 Pyrex baking dish. All that's left, then, is to sprinkle on a top layer of shredded Romano evenly over the casserole, slide the dish into the oven once again (but this time under the 500 degree broiler), and flash cook the top until the cheese is beautifully browned and crusted.

Of course, while the eggplant is finishing up, it's time to do the sausage rounds. Place a heavy 12-inch non-stick skillet on the stovetop over a medium-high flame and add to it half of the remaining olive oil. When the oil gets hot, drop in half of the meatballs and roll them around and around by agitating the pan, searing and pan-roasting them as they cook. When they're done, remove them from the skillet, add in the last tablespoon of olive oil, along with the last six meatballs, and repeat the procedure one more time.

When it's time to eat, serve two 'rounds' per person on a warmed dinner plate, alongside a heaping portion of the eggplant casserole. Garnish with the leftover green onions and parsley. A stack of buttered multigrain saltine crackers makes a nice accompaniment.

Chef's Hints

Pete's Italian Sausage Rounds are really meatballs made from his special Italian sausage blend. It consists of pork, a textured vegetable protein binder, a proportioned amount of dried Italian seasonings, salt and pepper for spice, and just enough water to create a stiff meat paste sufficient to roll the blend into small 'meatballs.' If you'd prefer not to make them yourself from scratch, you can order them already vacuumed packed directly from Pete by calling 504-469-4369.

You'll notice that this recipe calls for adding ingredients 'half at a time.' Don't try to shorten the steps. But you can feel free to reduce the quantities of a number of the spices and seasonings (or even add more if you care to) in order to suit your individual taste.

If you want to intensify the flavoring capabilities of the tomato, premix the diced tomatoes with the green onions and the minced parsley and allow the combination to rest in the refrigerator for about three hours prior to using it.

Instead of pan-broiling the meatballs on top of the stove, you can opt to set them on an oiled sheet pan into which you add about a quarter cup of water and oven roast them for about 45 minutes until tender. This eliminates having you stand at the stove to carefully watch the meatball browning process.

The eggplant dish may be prepared in advance, kept in the refrigerator for a day or two, then put into the oven and 'baked' uncovered instead of cooking it under the broiler.