As August gives way to September, we start to think about pumpkins, cinnamon, and apples. But to get there, we have to get through the last of the eggplant in the garden. Ripe tomatoes are weighing the vines down too, making navigating the raised beds a safety hazard. If it weren't for the deer netting, the vines would be on the ground. After feeding the chickens this morning I harvested a big basket of tomatoes and two large eggplants.
It only made sense that with homemade marinara sauce would be on the dinner menu.
I have been making marinara sauce all summer from fresh tomatoes, but I turned to Mario Batali's recipe for inspiration. I have always made eggplant parm with breaded, fried eggplant and the whole thing becomes a bit greasy and mushy. Mario's recipe calls for roasting the sliced eggplant in the oven, with just a light brushing of olive oil. Then the dish is assembled and baked for 15 additional minutes to finish cooking and melt the cheese. It was perfect.
My marinara sauce was the best batch I have made all summer. It was so sweet and flavorful. I think this is due to my having a lot more big beef tomatoes ripening now and fewer of the Early Girls. The big beef tomatoes cook up sweeter. Next year I will plant Roma's too. I am digging this homemade marinara! Here is my recipe for roasted tomato sauce .
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 large eggplant (about 2 pounds)
- Salt and pepper
- 2 cups basic tomato sauce (homemade or jarred)
- 1 pound fresh mozzarella (sliced ⅛-inch thick)
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
- Lightly brush olive oil on a large baking sheet.
- Slice each eggplant into 6 pieces about 1 to 1 ½ inches thick. Bake the eggplant at 450 degrees F until the slices begin turning deep brown on top, about 35-40 minutes. Remove the eggplant from the oven. Remove the slices from the baking sheet and place them on a plate to cool.
- Lower oven temperature to 350 degrees F. In an 8 by 12-inch pan, place the 4 largest eggplant slice evenly spaced apart. Over each slice, spread ¼ cup of tomato sauce. Place one slice of mozzarella over each and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon grated Parmigiana. Place the smaller slices of eggplant over each of the disks and repeat with tomato sauce, and the 2 cheeses. Repeat the layering again until all the ingredients are used.
- Sprinkle the toasted bread crumbs over the top of the eggplant dish, and bake uncovered until the cheese melts and the tops turn light brown, about 15 minutes. Put the dish under the broiler for about 5 minutes until the cheese is golden brown and bubbly.
- Serve immediately.