The term pizzaiola in Italy means 'in the style of pizza'; here using smoked cheese to add intrigue - though you can use ordinary mozzarella too. A piece of thin chicken or veal can be swapped for, or added to, the eggplant.
- 8 slices eggplant, about 1 cm-thick
- extra virgin olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed or sliced
- 400 g tomatoes, chopped (use tinned if out of season)
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 10 basil leaves, torn
- 50 g smoked mozzarella, sliced (optional)
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Serving size as an entree or side
1. Pour enough oil into a wide oven-proof frying pan to cover the base. Place over medium high heat and cook the eggplant slices until deep golden on both sides. Remove and set aside. Alternatively, you can brush the eggplant with oil and roast in a wood-fired oven or a regular oven).
2. Heat another tablespoon of oil in the pan and cook the onion and parsley over low-medium heat for 6-8 minutes or until tender. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the tomato and simmer for about 10 minutes or until it reaches a sauce-like consistency. Add a touch of water if it starts to dry out. Taste for salt and pepper, then remove from the heat.
3. Scatter the basil over the top and cover with the eggplant slices, then the cheese. Bake in a wood-fired oven (or an oven preheated to 180 ˚C) just until the cheese has melted a little. Serve hot with bread or a simple rice pilaf.
Photography by Tim Thatcher