Baked Eggplant with Tomato and Mozzarella

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How quickly time passes… last week I was vacationing in the beautiful surroundings of Italy and now…well, it’s all a cherished memory as I work my way back into the daily routines of my life.  Yet, I brought back a different me from this trip.  A woman who once feared venturing out alone, pretty low on the confidence pole and decision doubting, to a renewed, refreshed, totally in awe of life and beauty, humbled by my inner strength and a new amore la vita, love of life!

Enjoying daily meals of bread, pasta and pizza, was like being in heaven….and I didn’t bloat or gain an ounce of weight!  I’ve decided that the bread, pasta and pizza are completely different in Italy.  Made with love, the carbs in Italy nourished my body, energized my day and blessed me with an overall pleasure of eating well.

Back home now, I welcomed having several main veggie meals to get me back on track.

imageOne of my favorite, most versatile and very easy dishes, is a simple baked eggplant.  One skillet, one baking dish.  Cut, chop, sauté and bake; easy enough for a quick weeknight meal….with some crusty bread and a glass of wine, if you’re feeling a bit Italian.

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I also love to make it ahead, either earlier in the day or the day before, as it firms up and can be served as an appetizer, or antipasti. 

imageFor this bake, mozzarella was added to the filling; however, the variations are endless.  For more of a main meal, shredded cooked chicken or ground turkey or beef (I love to crumble in leftover meatballs and sausage); pine nuts for a different spin and bit of a crunch; gorgonzola instead or mixed with the mozzarella, diced zucchini or peppers…you get the idea 🙂

 

Baked Eggplant with Tomato and Mozzarella

1 large eggplant, halved lengthways, stems attached

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic minced

1 14 ounce, fire-roasted diced tomatoes

1 tablespoons tomato paste

1 teaspoons Kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon dried basil

4 ounces mozzarella cheese

Fresh basil and freshly grated Parmesan cheese for sprinkling on top, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Score the eggplant halves being careful to not cut through the skin and leaving about a 1/4 inch shell. 

Heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet and place the eggplant halves cut side down; cook for about 3-5 minutes until the flesh is lightly browned and soft.  Remove from skillet to cool slightly.

In the same skillet, add in remaining 2 tablespoons of oil.  Cook the onions until soft.  Stir in the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic, salt, pepper and dried basil.  Allow to simmer for about 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, scoop out the flesh from the eggplant – it my need to be cut if not soft enough to scoop.  Chop the eggplant flesh and place the eggplant shells in a lightly greased baking dish.  Stir in the eggplant flesh into the skillet and cook until thick and bubbly.  Taste and season if necessary.  Mix in the mozzarella, saving a bit to top the shells.

Spoon the filling into eggplant halves.  Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Sprinkle on freshly grated Parmesan cheese and fresh basil. Serve immediately, or at room temperature.  Serves two as a main dish; serves 6 as an appetizer.

18 thoughts on “Baked Eggplant with Tomato and Mozzarella

  1. That looks delicious. Apparently the antioxidant in tomatoes is more effective when they are cooked twice, so cooking the sauce with olive oil and then baking it later on is very good for you 🙂

  2. An absolutely gorgeous dish – I was expecting Melanzane Parmigina when I read the title but you gave us a great twist on one of my favourites! But what I really like is to hear the smile in your voice – I think this trip was a lifechanger 🙂

    1. Aww, yes, thanks Tanya for noticing. I feel it in my voice, my spirit and all over! I may need to return to Italy every now and then to keep it going!!

  3. Coming home must have been such a wrench. I’m sorry you couldn’t have stayed longer. But you must have made some wonderful memories and I do hope that at some stage, some day, you may get to repeat the experience. The baked eggplant is a wonderful vegetarian meal xx

    1. One week went by very quickly. Especially when others had mentioned they were traveling for several weeks! I so do hope to return and now feeling more confident of my traveling abilities, I’d love to spend more time.

  4. You’ve got that Italian afterglow, Linda. Cherish it and start planning your return. 🙂
    There are so many great ways to prepare baked eggplant and this recipe is right up there with the best. It makes such a great platform for so many toppings, each better than its predecessors.
    Welcome home!

  5. Linda, this is such a great idea ~ eggplant bruschetta 🙂 while I do eat (and greatly enjoy) bread on occasion, I also look for delicious alternatives to break things up and give my aging metabolism a well deserved break ;-). It sounds like you had an amazing trip — one of the nicest things about taking a holiday is that we return inspired to relive the experiences in our kitchen! I have a feeling will be enjoying your Italian holiday for some time to come, and that’s a good thing. Welcome home.

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