Eggplant and Potato Lasagna-Style Casserole with Tomato-Vegetable Sauce
- 3 to 4 medium-size firm eggplants, sliced into 1/4-inch thick discs
- About 1 cup EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 large clove garlic, crushed plus 3 cloves thinly sliced or chopped
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 4 to 5 medium-size thin-skinned potatoes, such as Yukon or Adirondack, sliced 1/4- inch thick
- 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 to 3 ribs celery and leafy tops, finely chopped
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 frying peppers or cubanelle pepper, finely chopped
- 1 small chili pepper, finely chopped
- 1 28-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes
- A few leaves of basil, torn
- 3/4 pound ball fresh mozzarella
- 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Spread eggplant slices on a kitchen towel or paper towels and season with salt; let drain 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 425ºF with 2 racks in the upper and lower third of oven.
In small pot over medium heat, heat EVOO, about 1 cup, with 1 clove crushed garlic and 2 sprigs of rosemary. When garlic bubbles, turn off heat and let stand 5-10 minutes.
Brush eggplant lightly with EVOO infused with garlic and rosemary, and arrange on 2 large nonstick baking sheets. Reserve the remaining oil. Bake eggplant 10-12 minutes then turn eggplant and switch the baking racks and roast 12-15 minutes more until golden but not dry. Remove to a plate and cool to handle.
Place potatoes in cold water and bring to a boil. Salt water and cook to barely tender, 3-5 minutes, drain and cool. Heat a few tablespoons of the garlic oil in large skillet over medium-high heat, add potatoes in a single layer and brown and crisp on each side, like thick potato chips, 5-8 minutes total. Remove to a cooling rack, season with salt.
Heat 2 tablespoons of reserved EVOO in saucepot over medium heat. Add carrots, celery, onions, peppers, chopped garlic, salt and pepper. Cover and sweat vegetables, 7-8 minutes. Add tomatoes, break up into small pieces. Add basil and simmer uncovered 20 minutes or so to thicken.
Slice mozzarella into very thin half moons.
Reduce oven temperature to 350ºF.
Arrange 1 cup of sauce in small casserole dish. Shingle eggplant in tight-fitting rows and after every 2 rows, shingle in a row of crispy potatoes. Arrange half of the mozzarella and Parm over the first row. Top with another cup of sauce and the remaining eggplant and potatoes. Dot top of casserole with last few spoons of sauce and arrange the mozzarella around the top -- it will not cover the entire surface, just arrange here and there evenly. Sprinkle with remaining Parm.
Bake 25-30 minutes until brown and bubbly. Let cool 15 minutes then cut into 6 portions and serve warm.
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