One of my favorite food bloggers is http://prouditaliancook.blogspot.com. I had the good fortune to find this blog awhile back, and Marie's food is some of the most beautiful food on earth. This woman is not only brilliant, but her recipes are simple and always include all my favorite ingredients. Plus, her photos are gorgeous and make you want to eat the computer screen. I have tried many of her recipes and they do not disappoint.
I saw this recipe there recently, and literally ran out the next day to get an eggplant so I could make it. I absolutely love eggplant, by the way. You may be thinking that you don't like eggplant, but you know what, you really do. You just haven't had it prepared right if you think you don't like it. I have convinced my family that they love eggplant, and I'm here to convince you, too.
So, this recipe was so easy - and so beautiful - and so tasty! And, not to mention, fun to make! Following Marie's recipe, I peeled the eggplant in pretty stripes (leaving most of the peel on), cut it into 3/4" slices, and brushed it all over with some olive oil. I roasted the slices on a foil-lined baking sheet at 450 degrees for about 20 minutes.
While the eggplant cooked, I made some pesto. Trader Joe's had a lovely box of organic basil today, so I tossed a generous cup of leaves into my mini food processor with a handful of grated Pecorino cheese and toasted walnuts, a couple cloves of garlic, and a good amount of olive oil to pull it all together. I opened up a can of my favorite store bought marinara, Trader Joe's (in the fat green can) and added a few more cloves of grated garlic to that. I sliced up thick slices of fresh mozzarella cheese and then got a pretty white baking dish out. Then the fun began - building the stacks! You start by spreading a little sauce into the baking dish, then place half the eggplant slices down. On top of the slices, in this order, layer: sauce, mozzarella cheese, a good dollop of pesto, another eggplant slice, a little more sauce, and another mozzarella slice. Top with shredded Parmigiano or Pecorino cheese, and some panko bread crumbs on top. Bake at 375 degrees 20-25 minutes until hot and the cheese is melted. Garnish with extra basil and serve immediately.