Sformato di melanzane

Although I own many cookbooks and save million recipes in every possible format and support, I end up cooking the same old things.

It is just a matter of time, hunger and poor supply of fancy ingredients.

My favorite cookbooks recipes are those that get stuck in my mind and that pop up when I need them, more or less accurately, and save me and/or my family from starvation.

One of these recipes is an eggplant bake from my beloved first Moosewood cookbook
I actually own the previous 1987 edition. It was my first vegetarian cookbook ever. It was a gift from a different life in the past about to end abruptly. Also my first book measured in cups. Funnily enough, I remembered a cup measurer my Canadian-Spanish aunt gave my mother many years before and suddenly that weird looking gadget made some sense.

Then recently I purchased Ottolenghi’s Plenty more and met a recipe that resembled my favorite, though with a cheesier custard.

What you need:

3 fat eggplants (nice shiny black or purple peel, no indentures, no softness allowed) cut in ¼ inch slices
Very little Salt
A little olive oil to brush
4 or 5 fresh tomatoes, sliced, or 1 cup tomato sauce or 1 can tomatoes crushed in their juices (no sugar or weird stuff added)
Fresh herbs such as basil, oregano or whatever you have on hand

Custard:
Option 1
350 ml milk
60 g flour
2 eggs
200 g feta, crumbled
Salt and pepper to taste
Option 2
3 eggs
250 g ricotta
200 g feta or other very tasty cheese

Breadcrumbs to assemble, only a little to absorb the juices of the tomatoes

How to do it:

Place the Eggplant slices on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Brush them with oil and season with the tiniest sprinkle of salt. Bake them for about twenty minutes, turning them once (200°C degrees with 600W microwave).

Prepare custard:
Option 1, whisk flour, milk and eggs.
Option 2: blend cheese. Mix in the eggs.

Normally I would layer the casserole placing first the eggplant, then tomatoes, feta, herbs and breadcrumbs, and so on until all ingredients were used up and finally pour over the custard.

Ottolenghi suggests to display the slices on their long side. To this extent long shaped eggplants are a better option. The advantage is a more visually appealing and - strangely enough - easier to slice casserole.

The first custard is lighter and less salty, but the second one results in a nicer looking slightly souffle' like bake.

Bake for twenty minutes (200°C degrees with 600W microwave). If you do not use the microwave, you will have to double the baking time. 

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