Late summer is the prime time to create a variety of dishes using plump, fresh eggplants, whether they are purple, green, striped, or seedless. Of course, you can fry them, smother them down with shrimp, roast them on the grill, and even turn them into Italian delicacies such as caponata.. But this particular recipe I happen to be wild over. Try it and let me know what you think!
~ Frank Davis
2 medium eggplants, around 1-1/2 lbs. each
4 whole garlic cloves, mashed
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup minced parsley
2 Tbsp. Frank Davis Sicilian Seasoning
2 Tbsp. Frank Davis Vegetable Seasoning
3 medium tomatoes, cut in thin (1/4') slices
3 large Vidalia onions, cut in thin (1/2') slices
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
1 box Sesame Cracker thins
First, cut the eggplants in half lengthwise and place them on a large, greased, shallow baking pan.
Then in a 2-cup measuring cup, combine the oil and the garlic and combine the mixture well. When the blending is done, brush HALF of it over the cut eggplant surfaces.
Then immediately sprinkle the 'plants with half of the parsley and a liberal coating of the Sicilian seasoning. Then shake on the vegetable seasoning (or sea salt and black pepper) to taste.
At this point, generously layer the tops of the eggplant with the half of the Parmesan cheese.
Then evenly lay on the tomato slices, place the onion slices atop the tomatoes, drizzle the remaining olive oil mixture over everything, and add yet another sprinkling of both the Sicilian and vegetable seasonings.
Now bake the 'plants uncovered in a hot oven (400 degrees) for about 45 minutes or until the eggplants are 'almost' tender. Then liberally top them with a heavy layer of Mozzarella and the remaining parsley, and bake them for 15 minutes more until the cheese melts and begins to turn a toasty brown.
When they're served, also pass around the bowl of leftover Parmesan cheese so that your diners can give their eggplants one last crowning touch. I think they're at their absolute best when served hot from the oven with crispy sesame cracker thins.
A variation to this method is as follow: Instead of baking the eggplant halves face up, brush them liberally with the olive oil and garlic mixture, sprinkle them with Sicilian and vegetable seasoning, and back them face down for about 20 minutes until they yield to gentle finger pressure.
At that time, using two metal spatulas, turn them over and follow the recipe above, beginning at the second paragraph where the Parmesan, tomatoes, and onions go on. Of course, the final baking time now will be much reduced (about 20 minutes total or until the onions, tomatoes, and mozzarella are done).
If you can't find my seasonings where you shop, you can get them on-line at www.frankdavis.com. In the meantime, however, to do this dish you can substitute 2 teaspoons of sea salt and one-half teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper in its place.
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