Baked Eggplant With Ricotta, Mozzarella and Anchovy
I learned this dish from a Sicilian cook in a small town outside Palermo. She makes it by layering thinly sliced eggplant with fresh curd cheese and caciocavallo (I use fresh ricotta and provolone instead), as well as pecorino and Parmesan cheese — a bit like a lasagna without pasta. It is quite delicious and unusual in that there is no tomato sauce, as there often is in so many Sicilian baked eggplant dishes. The anchovies, melted into the crisp bread-crumb-and-cheese topping, provide a sharp contrast to the sweetness of the eggplant. I like to serve a tomato salad alongside.
- Serves: 6 persons
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 3or 4 small eggplants (about 2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch slices
- Salt and pepper
- Pinch of crushed red pepper
- 1small red onion, thinly sliced
- 12ounces fresh ricotta
- ½pound smoked mozzarella, thinly sliced (or use fresh mozzarella)
- 2cups provolone cheese, coarsely grated (about 1/2 pound)
- ½cup finely grated Parmesan or Grana Padano cheese (about 2 ounces)
- ½cup finely grated pecorino cheese (about 2 ounces)
- 12anchovy fillets
- ¼cup toasted bread crumbs, preferably homemade
- 1teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Sicilian
Step 1Heat oven to 375 degrees. Generously oil a 9- by 13-inch baking dish. Season eggplant slices on both sides with salt and pepper. Arrange half the eggplant slices in one layer on bottom of dish, overlapping slices slightly. Drizzle or paint eggplant generously with olive oil. Sprinkle with crushed red pepper to taste and scatter onion slices evenly over surface.
Step 2With a small spoon, distribute the ricotta in little blobs evenly over surface, then arrange half the smoked mozzarella over the ricotta. Sprinkle with 1 cup grated provolone.
Step 3Make another layer of overlapping slices with remaining seasoned eggplant. Drizzle or paint eggplant generously with olive oil. Top surface evenly with remaining smoked mozzarella and provolone, then sprinkle with Parmesan and pecorino. Arrange anchovy fillets over top and sprinkle with bread crumbs.
Step 4Bake uncovered for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until eggplant is quite tender when pierced with a fork and top is crisp and golden. (If top seems to be browning too quickly, tent with foil and reduce heat to 350 degrees.) Remove from oven, dust with oregano and let rest at least 20 minutes before cutting into squares. The dish is best served at room temperature, not piping hot.