Source Olive to Cook
|3 cloves IN THEIR SKINS||garlic|
|2 cups||cherry tomatoes|
|4 (optional)||sun-dried tomatoes|
|(optional)||red chili pepper flakes|
|salt & pepper|
|1/2 pound||fresh mozzarella||sliced thin|
|4 (optional)||fresh basil leaves|
1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Slice each baby eggplant lengthwise into 5 slices. Lay eggplant slices out on a parchment-lined sheet pan, sprinkle both sides with salt, and allow to sit for at least 20 minutes. The salt is to draw out some of the moisture. While eggplant is "sweating," slice cherry tomatoes in half. Place sliced tomatoes and 3 cloves of garlic (in their skins) into a baking dish. It's important to keep the garlic in their skins so that the garlic can roast and not burn. Drizzle with olive oil and salt & pepper to taste. Place tomatoes and garlic in the oven. Once the tomatoes have baked for 20 minutes, add the eggplant slices to the oven.
3. Watch the tomatoes and eggplant. Once the eggplant has browned, remove from oven. Allow to cool. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees. The tomatoes will take a total of 40-60 minutes (including the 20 minutes in the step above), depending on their size. You want to bake them until they are really soft and looking smashed and the garlic skins are brown. Once cooked, add the tomatoes to a food processor and add the garlic (slide the roasted cloves out of their skins and discard the skins). Puree until smooth. Add the sun-dried tomatoes, chili pepper flakes, a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper and puree again.
4. Begin layering. Coat the bottom of the pan with the sauce, add an eggplant slice, a little more sauce, some mozzarella cheese, an eggplant slice, a little more sauce, some mozzarella, etc. until you have rebuilt the baby eggplant. You should have four stacks. Bake at 350 degrees until cheese is melted and slightly browned on top. Top with the basil leaves and serve. Serves 4 as a first course, 2 as a main.