This recipe is based on one from The Victory Garden Cookbook by Marian Morash. I have taken some liberty and used a fresh Manchego cheese instead of the Mozzarella called for in the original recipe. Manchego is a delicious Spanish cheese made from sheep's milk. Fresh Manchego cheese is only aged about two weeks, which keeps it smooth and buttery.
Makes 8 servings
1. Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise, then slice into half-moon shaped slices, about ½ inches thick. Salt and drain for 30 minutes.
2. While the eggplants are draining, cut the onion into fine slices. Mince the garlic and sauté both in a small amount of the olive oil until lightly browned. Remove from heat and set aside.
3. Dry each eggplant slice with paper towels to remove excess salt and moisture.
4. Heat skillet over medium-high heat, and coat with olive oil. Fry each eggplant slice on both sides until just lightly browned. This step will help save time in the baking process. Eggplant takes a long time to bake if you don’t do this step.
5. Slice the tomatoes in half and slice again to resemble half-moons. Slice the Manchego cheese in the same way.
6. In a rectangular casserole about 2 inches deep, spread half of the cooked onion and half of the sliced basil.
7. Begin with the eggplant and stand up the slices at the narrow end of the casserole, then add sliced cheese and the tomatoes. I press this firmly as I go to keep them together. Repeat this process until the dish is full.
8. Top the casserole with the remaining cooked onions and sliced basil, spreading evenly. Drizzle with any remaining olive oil. Top with some freshly ground black pepper.
9. Cover the casserole with aluminum foil, and bake at 350° for 35-40 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes.