Cook It! Baked Eggplants in Tomato Sauce (April 4, 2008)
This particular baby I made on Easter Monday (Holidays! Horray for working for the French!), and I have an Italian-born Poppa of a co-worker to thank for. Paul Lazo is one hecuva comedian at work, and knows how to whip up a hearty, healthy meal for his family from scratch. (Believe you me, it takes a lot of talent to to raise and feed four growing daughters well.) Meet him once, and you won't think twice why his family is a happy one. ;)
I was once looking for simple recipes that were quick and easy on the budget. Bitter melon (ampalaya) and okra were out of the question, since James had sworn off eating the stuff. So, what do we resort to? What's left in the veggie crisper, of course: eggplants.
Far as I knew, the simplest dish I knew to cook them with was Tortang/ Relyenong Talong. (Translation: Grilled, skinned eggplants -- in that order --, coated in sugared beaten eggs and panfried.Ground pork optional.) Thankfully, Paul obliged me and shared with me this easy Italian dish. Fire up your ovens.
Baked Eggplants With Tomato Sauce
you will need:
- 5-6 eggplants (the larger the better, and get your mind out of the gutter, for heaven's sakes)
- 2 packets of tomato sauce
- 1 large onion, diced
- a small- to medium-sized tin of spicy tuna in vegetable oil
- parmesan cheese for topping
- salt and pepper to taste. hot sauce optional.
let's get to it!
- Open your tin can, and push the lid back down on the meat to form a sieve of sorts.Wash your eggplants, and slice them diagonally. We're after nice, slim parallelogram shapes here. Set aside.
- Drain the spicy oil from the tuna into your frying pan, and heat it up. Sautee the diced onions in the tuna oil until they turn transparent. Add your tomato sauce, and mix well. Season with your salt and pepper to taste. To give it a kick (specially when the loved one is home for dinner), an addittional 2-3 drops of hot pepper sauce will do you good. ;) Let simmer, then turn off the heat. Tip: If end up adding too much hot sauce, have a sweet dessert ready.
- Set your oven to 250 to 350 F/ 177C, or Gas Mark 4. Bring out a deep-dish oven pan, and arrange your ingredients in layers, like so:
- First, spread a thin sheen of oil on the bottom of the dish. Spread with clean fingers.
- Next, put on a layer of eggplant slices,
- .. then give it a generous layer of tomato sauce.
- Then another layer of eggplant,
- ... and sauce. Usually, it ends by the second set.
- Pop the deep dish into the oven, and let it bake for 30-45 minutes. To test for doneness, prick your eggplants with a fork. If they're soft and succulent, you're all good.
- Take your dish out of the heat(turning off your oven too is advisable -- saves you energy), and sprinkle on a generous layer of parmesan cheese. Serve warm on either pasta or rice.