Try this traditional recipe from Quattro Gastronomia Italiana chef Fabrizio Carro for a hearty meat-free meal.
- 3 medium eggplants (not more than 4-inches in diameter), sliced into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
- Coarse salt
- 1 cup '00' flour
- 4 cups canola oil
- 1 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, chopped
- 6 ounces Grana Padano cheese
- 1/2 cup packed basil leaves
- 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- 4 cups Tomato Sauce Recipe
Lay eggplant slices in a single even layer on a rack set over rimmed baking sheets; generously season with salt. Let stand 15 minutes to release excess moisture; pat dry with paper towels.
Place flour in a shallow dish; dredge eggplant slices in flour, shaking off excess. In a large pot, heat canola oil to 300 degrees on a deep-fry thermometer. Working in batches, add eggplant slices to hot oil and cook, turning once, until lightly browned, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain; repeat process with remaining eggplant.
Place mozzarella and Grana padano cheeses in the bowl of a food processor; process until just combined. Add basil leaves and olive oil; process until well combined. Season with fine sea salt and pepper and transfer to a disposable pastry bag.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Set six 4-by-3-inch round ring molds in a large shallow baking dish. Place a dollop of tomato sauce at the bottom of each ring mold. Top with a slice of eggplant. Cut a small hole from the bottom of the pastry bag and pipe a layer of cheese mixture on top of eggplant. Top with another dollop of sauce, followed by another slice of eggplant. Repeat process until you have reached the top of the ring mold or have created four layers, ending with a slice of eggplant. Top with a little tomato sauce.
Transfer to oven and bake until cheese is melted and eggplant is warmed through, about 15 minutes. Using a spatula, carefully transfer filled ring molds to individual serving plates. Carefully remove ring mold before serving.
SourceThe Martha Stewart Show, February 2010