I love eggplants and I stopped frying them a long time ago when I realised that “mousaka” could be just as delicious by roasting the eggplants instead of frying them. Eggplant I think is the best veggie for layering. It works so well between tomato sauce and cheese, no wonder the Italians created the heavenly “melanzane parmigiana”.
You can call this, my take on eggplant Parmesan. Layers of roasted eggplant, tomato sauce, cheese and the nutty flavor of bulgur wheat. Bulgur wheat absorbs all the flavors and the juices from the other components of the dish and it becomes absolutely delicious. Plus it keeps the dish together. Make sure you will restrain from eating it straight out of the oven and let it stand for 30 minutes before cutting. During this time the bulgur will absorb all the juices of the dish even further.
I must admit, it is a fairly time consuming dish to make, since you have to prepare all the different components. That said, you can prepare the dish entirely in advance, put it in the fridge for up to 24 hours and bake it 2 hours before serving time (allow time for the dish to come to room temperature).
For the eggplants
- 12 medium eggplants cut lengthwise in 1 cm slices
- About 1/4 cup olive oil
For the tomato sauce
- 4 Tbs olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 cup white wine
- 2 X 400ml can “Mitsides” chopped tomatoes
- 1 x 70grams “Mitsides” tomato paste
- 1 Tbs sugar
- Salt and pepper
For the bulgur wheat
- 1 cup “Mitsides” bulgur wheat, blue pack
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 150 grams feta cheese, crumbled
- 6 Tbs Parmesan cheese, grated
- About 21 Basil leaves
- 1 ½ cup mozzarella cheese, coarsely grated
Method: Prepare the eggplants. Preheat oven at 220 C. Put eggplants in a colander and sprinkle liberally with salt. Let them stand for 1 hour. Rinse eggplants to remove excess salt and dry on kitchen paper or towels. Put slices on two baking trays. Brush one side with olive oil. Bake fro 20 minutes. Turn eggplant slices over and brush again with olive oil. Bake for 15 minutes longer, until eggplants are cooked and coloured in places. Remove from the trays and set aside until needed
Prepare the tomato sauce. Put the chopped tomatoes in a bowl of a food processor and blend until smooth. Put the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook for a few seconds. Pour in the wine and let it bubble away for about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, salt and pepper. Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer the sauce for about 5-6 minutes until thickened slightly. Remove from the heat and set aside until needed.
Prepare the bulgur wheat. In a medium saucepan bring the vegetable broth to a boil. Lower the heat to low and add the bulgur wheat. Cover the saucepan and let the bulgur wheat simmer for 10 minutes until cooked but not mushy. Spread the wheat on a baking tray to cool and stop the cooking process.
Assemble the dish. Take a rectangular lasagna dish, measuring approximately 23 x 33 cm. Cover the base with ½ cup tomato sauce (layer will be thin). Top with one layer of eggplant slices, overlapping slightly. Cover slices with 1 cup tomato sauce. Sprinkle with half the feta cheese, 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese and about 7 basil leaves. Cover with half the bulgur wheat (an easy way to evenly spread the wheat is by sprinkling it with your hands on top of the cheeses). Continue layering with another layer of eggplant slices, 1 cup tomato sauce, the remaining feta cheese, 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, 7 leaves of basil and the remaining bulgur wheat. Top with another layer of eggplant slices, the remaining tomato sauce and the 2 last tablespoons of Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle with the grated mozzarella and scatter the remaining basil leaves. Cover the dish tightly with foil. At this stage you can put it in the fridge for up to 24 hours.
Bake the dish. Preheat oven at 200 C. Make sure your dish is at room temperature. Bake covered for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 175 C and bake 15 minutes longer. Uncover the dish and bake 5-8 minutes until cheese begins to colour. Let the dish stand for 30 minutes before serving.