Eggplant I luv u! ;)

Eggplant Casserole serves 4
adapted from Mamma Maria! Familenrezepte aus Sizilien by Cettina Vicenzino

4 mid-sized eggplants
3 gloves garlic, cut into thin slices
500g tomatoes, roughly chopped
70g ham, chopped
125g mozzarella, chopped
100g freshly ground parmesan
fresh basil, leaves roughly, stems finely chopped
salt & pepper

Remove the stem from the eggplant, than slice into 1cm thick discs. Using a big bowl, place them in layers, each layer sprinkled generously with salt. This procedure removes excess water and bitters. I used my heavy stone mortar to put some extra weight on top helping the water to drain. This step should take around 1 hour. After an half an hour we can start with the tomato sauce. Heat up a large pan with 1 tbsp oil over medium high heat and throw in the sliced garlic while the pan is still cold. This infuses the oil much better than cooking the garlic right away. When the garlic starts to brown add the basil stems and the chopped tomatoes. Cook until it looks like a thick nice sauce. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat up your oven to 200°C (400°F).

Now back to our main actor: Monsignore Eggplant. Discard the liquid and give the eggplant slices a quick rinse. Take 3 slices in your hands and squeeze as much water as possible out of them. Repeat until all slices are dry. Grab a deep casserole and start with a layer of tomato sauce, followed by a layer of eggplant slices. On top goes some ham, mozzarella, basil and parmesan. Now repeat until all ingredients are used. The last layer should be tomato sauce with plenty of parmesan on top. Bake 30 minutes until the top is golden brown and the sauce nice and bubbly. This dish doesn't need any side dish besides maybe some crusty bread, sprinkled with olive oil and flaky sea salt.

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