We’re by no means vegetarians, but we have tried to cut down considerably on our meat consumption over the past few years. Doing so has meant researching creative vegetable dishes to add to our repertoire. Brent discovered this one in our “Vegetarian-Tasty Recipes for Every Day” cookbook. It definitely lives up to the “tasty” title. We both went back for seconds!
We also learned a new word. Bocconcini are small mozzarella cheese balls. They are semi-soft, white and rindless unripened mild cheeses which originated in Napoli. They were once made only of buffalo milk, but today are often combined with cow’s milk. The Italian word, bocconcini, means “small mouthfuls.”
One of our long-range goals is to one day learn Italian. Looks like we’re one word closer.
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Total cooking time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
3 T olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed or pressed
2 1/2 lbs tomatoes, peeled and chopped
2 lbs eggplant, sliced thinly
8 oz. bocconcini, sliced
6 oz. cheddar cheese, finely grated (I used 1/2 this amount.)
1 C basil leaves, torn
1/2 C grated parmesan
1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat until soft. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the tomatoes and simmer for 15 minutes. Season with salt to taste. Preheat the oven to moderately hot 200 degrees. (I also added Italian seasonings at this point.)
2. Slice the eggplant very thinly and shallow fry in oil in batches for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.
3. Place one third of the eggplant in a 7-cup ovenproof dish. Top with half the bocconcini and cheddar. Repeat the layers, finishing with a layer of eggplant.
4. Pour the tomato mixture over the eggplant. Scatter with torn basil leaves, then parmesan. Bake for 40 minutes.
Serve with crusty bread and enjoy.