Eggplant, Potato and Pepper Casserole

2 large eggplants, thinly sliced crosswise
1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
5 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 can italian-style tomatoes, 28 ounces
2 large fresh thyme sprigs
olive oil (for frying)
3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, thinly sliced
3 green bell peppers, cored, thinly sliced
5 tablespoons minced fresh thyme

Place eggplant slices on 2 baking sheets. Lightly salt eggplant on both sides. Let stand 1 hour. Using paper towels, pat eggplant dry, wiping off salt. Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, sauté until golden, about 10 minutes. Add tomatoes with their juices and thyme sprigs; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until mixture is reduced to 2 1/2 cups, breaking up tomatoes with back of spoon, about 20 minutes. Season sauce with salt and pepper. Discard thyme sprigs.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Add oil to 2 large skillets to depth of 1/4 inch . Heat over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add eggplant to skillets and cook until golden, adding more oil to skillets as necessary, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer to paper towels and drain.

Working in batches, add potatoes to skillets, cook until golden, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer potatoes to paper towels.

Add green peppers to same skillet; sauté until almost tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer to paper towels.

Layer half of eggplant in 15x10x2-inch glass baking dish. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon thyme. Spoon 1/2 cup sauce over. Top with half of potatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Top with 1 tablespoon thyme. Spoon 1/2 cup sauce over. Place all pepper slices over. Season with salt and pepper. Top with 1 tablespoon thyme. Spoon 1/2 cup sauce over. Top with remaining eggplant. Top with 1 tablespoon thyme. Spoon 1/2 cup sauce over. Top with remaining potatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Top with 1 tablespoon thyme and 1/2 cup sauce. Bake uncovered until vegetables are tender, about 40 minutes. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Serves 8



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