eggplant parmesan, healthier and inside-out

As a vegetarian, eggplant parm has often been the one thing I could eat on the menu – that, or some sort of portobello mushroom sandwich.  Although I got quite sick of it, this recipe is nothing like any other versions I’ve tried, being fresher, lighter, and more delicate, with fresh basil and broiled – not fried – eggplant.  It’s a no-brainer when we have company, though not for vegan company.  I think it would still be quite good with vegan cheese or even a homemade tofu cheese-ish concoction. Here it is, from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone:

Serves 4-6.

2 medium eggplants (I often stretch out the recipe with large eggplants or by adding another one, since the smaller the eggplant, the better the flavor)
salt and pepper
1/4 cp or less olive oil
2 cps tomato sauce (I’ll post the easiest recipe ever soon)
8 large basil leaves, torn into pieces
4 oz mozzarella, thinly sliced if fresh, grated if otherwise
1/2 cp freshly grated parmesan

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly oil a 2-quart gratin dish.
2. Slice the eggplant into rounds of about 1/3 inch thick.  Unless the eggplant is garden fresh, sprinkle it with salt and let stand for 30 min to an hour, then blot dry.  This takes out the bitterness of the eggplant.
3. Preheat the broiler. Lightly brush both sides of each round with the olive oil and broil 5-6 inches from the heat until lightly browned. Broil the second side until lightly browned, then remove and season with salt and pepper.  Don’t worry if the eggplant has a dry appearance.
4. Warm the tomato sauce with half of the basil. Spread about a third of the sauce over the bottom of the gratin dish, then make an overlapping layer of eggplant. Lay the mozzarella over the top, add the rest of the basil, and sprinkle with the parmesan. Add the rest of the eggplant and cover it with the remaining sauce. Bake in the middle of the oven until bubbling and hot throughout, about 30 minutes.

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