A while back my husband made some delicious eggplant parmesan, a truly delicious dish when you follow the right Italian recipe. As I've been thinking about new ways to prepare veggies for dinner a similar style dished popped into my head, so I gave it a whorl and boy did it turn out good. This is great as a side-dish, but could be easily eaten as a main dish if you're a vegetarian or want a lasagna style dish minus the meat and noodles.
What You'll Need - serves 4-8 depending on portion sizes
- 2 medium zucchini sliced length wise into 1/8" thick pieces
- 2 small to medium summer squash sliced into 1/8" thick pieces
- 2 small eggplants or 1 medium to large one sliced into 1/4" slices, skin can be left on if it's not overly tough
- 2 teaspoons of dried thyme or 3-4 teaspoons of fresh thyme
- 1 lb of mozzarella cheese sliced as thinly as possible
- Olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/8 - 1/4 cup salt to sprinkle on eggplant
1. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Sprinkle salt onto each side of each eggplant slice, then set in a colander that has been placed over a bowl or in the sink. This step removes excess moisture in the eggplant.
The picture below shows you how much water came out of my eggplant. All that liquid would turn this dish into a stew! :-)
2. Coat the inside of six 3" ramekins or one 8" x 8' square baking dish with olive oil. If you use ramekins it's nice to be able to lift the vegetables out once they are baked. To do this, place two 1" x 12" strips of parchment down to form an x, these will act as handles to pull your vegetables out at the end. Then place a piece of parchment that has been cut into a circle on the bottom of the ramekin on top of the two strips.
3. Mix together your 1/4 tsp. of sea salt and your thyme. If possible, use a motor and pestle to crush and grind the thyme and salt together.
4. Now it's time to start layering those vegetables. I start with the zucchini and then put a layer of summer squash down. Brush the top of the summer squash with a little bit of olive oil and then sprinkle a little bit of the the thyme/salt mixture on top. Put down your layer of eggplant and then a thin layer of the mozzarella cheese. Continue layering your ingredients like this until they are gone. If you run out of one of the vegetables, no worries, just keep layering the rest until they are gone too. Depending on how thinly you were able to slice your cheese you may not use it all.
5. To finish, place one final layer of mozzarella on top and sprinkle with the thyme/salt mixture. Place in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until the cheese is melted and has a bit of a brown crust.