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Eggplant-Parmesan Timbales

  • SERVINGS: 6
  • MAKE-AHEAD
  • VEGETARIAN

These light and elegant timbales of eggplant parmigiana are a definite three-star take on a very simple dish. Serve them hot from the oven or at room temperature, whichever your picnic allows.

  1. 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
  2. 1/4 cup fresh fine bread crumbs
  3. 3 pounds tomatoes—peeled, halved, seeded and coarsely chopped
  4. 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  5. 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped basil
  6. Fine sea salt
  7. Two Italian eggplants, 1 medium wide and 1 narrow (about 3/4 pound each)
  8. Freshly ground pepper
  9. 6 ounces salted mozzarella, cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 1 1/3 cups)
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°. Brush six 1/2-cup ramekins with olive oil and coat the bottoms and sides with the bread crumbs. Tap out any excess crumbs.
  2. Squeeze as much juice from the tomatoes as possible; discard the juice. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large saucepan. Add the garlic and cook over moderate heat until golden, about 2 minutes; discard the garlic. Add the tomatoes and cook over moderately high heat until reduced to a thick sauce, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat, add 2 tablespoons of the basil and season with salt.
  3. Slice the wider eggplant lengthwise into eighteen 6-by-1/4-inch-thick strips. Cut the narrow eggplant crosswise into eighteen 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Arrange the strips and rounds on a rimmed baking sheet, brush with 6 tablespoons of the oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake for about 8 minutes, or until tender. As the eggplant is done, transfer the slices to a platter, keeping them intact. Lower the oven temperature to 375°.
  4. Line each ramekin with 3 strips of eggplant, allowing the excess to hang over the edges. Add about 1 tablespoon of the tomato sauce, a large pinch of the basil and 1 tablespoon of the mozzarella and cover with an eggplant round. Repeat the layering process 2 more times. Bring the overhanging strips of the eggplant over the filling to enclose it.
  5. Arrange the ramekins on a baking sheet and bake for about 25 minutes, or until heated through. Let cool for 10 minutes, then unmold each one onto a small plate. Drizzle the remaining tomato sauce around the timbales, garnish with any remaining basil and serve.
Make Ahead The baked timbales can be refrigerated overnight. Rewarm, then unmold before serving.
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