Basil Eggplant and Tomato Casserole

16 baby eggplants, each about 4 inches
4 cloves garlic slivered
4 bunches basil stems removed
black pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 large tomatoes cut into 1/4 inch slices
7 tablespoons parmesan cheese grated
1 bunch thyme
2 tablespoons italian parsley chopped

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Cut the stems from the eggplants and cut each lengthwise in half. Place the eggplants, skin side down, on a cookie sheet. Make a slit in the center of each eggplant half and insert a garlic sliver and a small basil leaf. Sprinkle with pepper to taste and drizzle with 1/4 cup of the oil over all the eggplant. Cover the pan tightly with with foil and bake 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven and turn the oven down to 350 degrees. Place one layer of eggplant, skin side down in a shallow 13 X 9 inch casserole. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice and pepper to taste. Arrange a layer of half the tomatoes over the eggplant and sprinkle with with 3 tablespoons of the parmesan. Sprinkle half the thyme evenly over the cheese and completely cover with a layer of basil. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the oil. Repeat layers, using the remaining layer ingredients including all the parmesan. Cover the baking pan tightly with aluminum foil and bake 45 minutes.

Garnish with parsley and serve immediately.

8 portions

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