A lot of people tend to avoid certain foods if they aren't sure how to cook it and eggplant certainly falls into that category. But it's not as difficult as you would think, the recipe below is pretty straight forward and not to mention pretty tasty. If you serve it as a vegetarian meal it's the star of of the show or if you prefer it will really compliment chicken or beef.
1 Large Eggplant
50g grated mozzarella cheese
150g Italian style tomato based pasta sauce
Panko breadcrumbs (these are a coarser style of breadcrumb)
1. Preheat your oven to 180C
2. Cut the top and stalk off the eggplant, leave the skin on (it's a great source of insoluble fibre) and slice lengthwise into strips about 1cm thick
Place onto a baking tray that has a fine layer of salt and lightly sprinkle with the remaining salt. Don't worry this isn't going to send your blood pressure through the roof with all that salt, it will be rinsed off once it has drawn the moisture out of the eggplant. Often the liquid within the eggplant is very bitter and the salt brings it to the surface. This takes about ten minutes or enough time to make your salad to serve it with.
3. Now you can rinse the bitter liquid off with some clean water and then pat the eggplant dry with some paper towel or a clean cloth.
4. In a large bowl add a liberal amount of olive oil and some cracked black pepper and a pinch of sea salt. Add the eggplant and mix it well in the oil so there is light coating on each side.
5. Grill the eggplant for about 3 minutes on each side on a hot BBQ or in a heavy pan on the stove top
6. Lay a piece of the eggplant on an oven tray that has a coating of cooking spray and top with the tomato mix, then sprinkle with a very small amount of the mozzarella. Continue layering until you have used half the eggplant and repeat with the remainder so that you have two stacks.
7. For the top of the eggplant add a generous amount of the remaining tomato and then mozzarella. Finish with a good amount of panko breadcrumbs, if you can't get these just use regular breadcrumbs or make your own with some stale bread. Place in the oven for 20 minutes or until the cheese and breadcrumbs start to brown.
8. Serve with a fresh summer salad or some grilled chicken or steak