Tuscan Style Eggplant Casserole
Let me take a moment here and be explicitly cheesy (well it’s kind of a ‘cheesy’ post anyway) and say that I may be back home in NYC but my heart is still somewhere in the beautiful expanse of Tuscany! Hopefully I’ll go back there someday but for now I have about a billion pictures and stories to keep me blissfully satisfied! Also about half a dozen designer shoes, because as dear Madonna once said, it’s a material world and I’m just trying to fit in.
No offense to Venice, Florence & Rome, but Tuscany turned out to be exactly what the doctor ordered. Leisurely wine trails across the mountains, food fresher than the air, and my favorite part you ask? (I don’t care, my blog) Zero minutes spent sight-seeing!
What made the trip to Tuscany beyond special was the Hotel 👉🏻 Locanda Dell’Amorosa!
It was everything I dreamed of and then some. And then some more. Beautiful beyond words, I might have photographed every last inch of it. (Catch them on my instagram page @grish_s) Even the olives hanging on the branches. Yes!!! There were olive trees everywhere. Everything we ate, was fresh from their vegetable garden. Cooked home-style by the beautiful, kind & gracious chef from their Osteria, Aziza Zraik who happens to be one of the sweetest people I have ever met. (In spite of the fact that I bugged her for recipes, hovered in her impeccably clean kitchen & cross-questioned her like a loony paparazzi for 3 days straight)
Finally, just like some dreams do come true, I got a chance to learn some homecooking – Tuscan Style, and eat the lavish meal I “helped” prepare with some delicious local Brunello! (and by some I mean I stopped counting after the second bottle) There were a lot of goodies to choose from but I’ll share the recipe I got to learn from scratch, Tuscan style baked eggplant casserole!
Note: clearly an expert, Aziza didn’t need to measure the exact amounts of ingredients that went in this recipe. I’ve tweaked it just a tiny little bit so it’s easy to replicate in anon commercial kitchen.
- 1-2 Large eggplants, very thinly sliced. (The approximate amount depends on how thinly you slice them. While Aziza used a professional slicer, my gut says regular slices will work just fine.)
- 2 cups chopped tomatoes sprinkled with sea salt.
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Olive oil for drizzling
- Start by char-grilling the thinly sliced eggplants and setting them aside.
- Line a 9″ round cake tin with parchment paper. And preheat the oven to 350 degrees F .
- Think lasagna. Start with a single layer of grilled eggplants. Season with salt and crushed pepper.
- Follow that up with a layer of the prepared chopped tomatoes.
- Drizzle with some olive oil and season with pepper.
- Top with a bit of both mozzarella & Parmesan.
- Keep repeating the layers till you finally reach the top.
- Bake for 15-20 mins until the cheese melts and browns a bit on top.
- Serve with your best Italian red. Here’s to Italy!