Eggplant alla Pecorino
Normally a dish like this is called eggplant Parmesan but I prefer to use Pecorino Romano. This cheese is similar to Parmesan, the main difference being that it is made from sheep’s milk instead of cow’s milk. If you are a strict vegetarian then keep in mind that Pecorino Romano is made using rennet. I have not yet found any pecorino made with vegetarian rennet, but I do know that Organic Valley makes a vegetarian Parmesan that you can use in this recipe instead of the pecorino. You don't need to worry as much about the mozzarella; most mozzarellas are rennet free but it's worth double checking the package if you are concerned. Make sure to plan plenty of time for this dish to cook and cool. It is a very easy recipe and most of the time needed is inactive.
Makes: 2 servings
Preparation time: 40m
Cooking time: 40m
Total time: 1h30m
- 1 eggplant (about 1 pound)
- 2 tablespoons coarse salt
- 1 - 18 ounce jar tomatoes (crushed, chopped or whole)
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- salt and pepper (to taste)
- dried red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
- 3 tablespoons grated Pecorino Romano cheese
- 1 cup low-fat cottage cheese
- 1/3 cup shredded mozzarella
- 1 1/2 cups uncooked whole grain fusilli (if making this recipe gluten-free make sure to buy gluten-free pasta)
- 4 cups hearty greens (chard/collard greens/kale/spinach/etc)
Equipment: colander or wire cooling grate, blender or food processor, 2 baking sheets, 2” deep baking dish
- Slice eggplant into 1/4” rounds.
- Now degorge the eggplant. To do this, generously sprinkle salt onto both sides of the chopped pieces to draw out any bitter liquid in the eggplant. Place the salted eggplant in a colander or on a grate above a bowl or sink for about 20 minutes to let the liquid drain away. Then rinse off the salt in cold water and gently squeeze out any excess liquid. I usually place the squeezed pieces onto paper towels while I work my way through them just to make sure all excess liquid is gone.
- Meanwhile make the sauce: place the tomatoes, garlic cloves and oregano into a blender or food processor and blend on high until smooth. Then season to taste with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes (if using). Set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF/205ºC.
- Place the eggplant onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Then flip the slices over and bake for another 10 minutes.
- Remove eggplant from the oven and begin to layer the ingredients in your baking dish in the following order:
- 1/4 - 1/2 cup sauce (enough to cover the bottom of the dish in a thin layer)
- 1/3 of the eggplant slices (they should fit snugly but not overlap, cut to fit in necessary)
- 1/2 the basil
- 1/2 cup sauce
- 1 tbsp Pecorino Romano
- 1/2 cup cottage cheese
- repeat this order once more starting with the eggplant
- Do one more layer of eggplant slices, followed by the rest of the sauce, then mozzarella and the final tablespoon of Pecorino Romano.
- Bake uncovered at 400ºF/205ºC for 30 minutes then remove from the oven and let rest for 20 minutes.
- While the eggplant is resting cook the pasta by bringing a pot of water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to the package directions.
- Meanwhile measure the greens into a large bowl. When the pasta is done cooking add it to the greens along with the contents of the baking dish. Toss everything together.
- Divide between two plates and serve right away.