- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 small carrot, halved
- 1 small celery rib, halved
- 1 fresh rosemary sprig
- One 35-ounce can Italian peeled tomatoes
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 3 pounds Asian eggplants, ends trimmed, sliced lengthwise 1/3 inch thick
- 6 ounces part-skim mozzarella shredded (about 1 3/4 cups)
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons finely shredded fresh basil leaves
- Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in a medium nonreactive saucepan. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until wilted, about 3 minutes. Tie the carrot, celery and rosemary together with cotton string and add to the saucepan along with the tomatoes and their juices. Season with a pinch each of salt and pepper and simmer over low heat, stirring to break up the tomatoes, until the sauce is slightly reduced, about 25 minutes. Discard the vegetable bundle.
- Pass the sauce through a food mill; alternatively, transfer the sauce to a food processor and process to a coarse puree. Season with salt and pepper.
- Light a grill. Using a damp paper towel, coat the grill with the remaining 1 teaspoon of oil. Season the eggplants with salt and grill over a medium-low fire, turning once, until tender and golden brown, about 12 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 400°. Spread 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce in a nonreactive 11-by-8-inch baking dish. Arrange one-third of the grilled eggplant in the dish, cover with one-third of the mozzarella and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the Parmesan cheese. Make another layer, using 1 cup of the tomato sauce, one-third each of the eggplant and mozzarella and 1 tablespoon of Parmesan cheese. Top with the remaining 1/2 cup of tomato sauce, sliced eggplant, mozzarella and 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese. Bake in the upper third of the oven for about 30 minutes, or until bubbling hot and lightly browned on top. Sprinkle with the shredded basil leaves and serve.
Pair with a bright red wine like Monsanto's Chianti Classico Riserva from Tuscany, Italy.
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Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.