Baked Eggplant (version VII)

1 large or 2 medium eggplant
1/4 cup olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
8 to 10 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 stalk of celery, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
small hot chili, minced, (optional or to taste)
4 to 6 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
1/4 cup minced fresh dill weed
minced fresh rosemary to taste
1 bay leaf
about 1 cup stock, broth or bouillon
2 to 3 tablespoons of tomato paste
1/4 to 1/4 cup red table wine
sugar to taste
salt and fresh ground coarse ground black pepper to taste

Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise and with a small very sharp knife, make slits in the flesh, being careful not to cut through to the skin. Sprinkle with salt and leave sit while you prepare the sauce.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and gently sauté the onion and garlic until lightly caramelized. Add the next 10 ingredients and cook over a moderate heat until sauce like, about 20 to 30 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and add the vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for about 5 minutes longer.

Meanwhile, rinse the eggplants under cold running water, pat dry and place in a baking dish. Using a wooden spoon, push as much of the sauce as possible down in-between the slits in the eggplant and stack some up on top. Pour any remaining sauce around the eggplant. Cover with a tight fitting lid or with foil and put into a 350º oven for about an hour, or until the eggplant is extremely tender and the sauce is somewhat thickened. Remove the cover and sprinkle lightly with a bit of grated Parmesan type cheese and return to the oven until the cheese is melted and beginning to brown. These may be served hot or cold. If this dish will be served cold I prefer not to add the cheese.

Serves 4 to 6

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