This is a wonderful dish to tuck into on a cold night. Rather than breading/frying eggplant, it’s oven-roasted, and braised kale adds another tasty dimension. And…you can make an amazing sammy with any leftovers!
- 3 pounds eggplant (about 2 medium)
- 1 bunch kale – curly or dino
- ¼ cup plus 4 Tbsp olive oil – divided
- ¼ cup water
- Fine sea salt and black pepper
- 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced – divided
- ¼ cup tomato paste
- 28 oz fire-roasted crushed tomatoes
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ cup roughly chopped fresh basil
- Pinch red pepper flakes
- 6 oz. freshly-grated mozzarella cheese (about 1 ½ cups packed)
- 2 oz fresh-grated parm (about 1 cup)
- Preheat oven to 425° with racks in the lower/upper thirds of the oven. Line two rimmed sheet pans with parchment paper.
- Slice off both ends of an eggplant, stand it on its widest flat side. Slice through vertically to make ¼” – ½” slabs. Discard both ends and sides covered with eggplant skin and repeat with other eggplant.
- Brush both sides of eggplant slabs with olive oil (will take about ¼ cup). Arrange in a single layer on sheet pans and sprinkle with salt/pepper. Roast 11-13 minutes and then rotate and move pans to different racks. Roast 11-13 minutes more until eggplant is tender and golden. Remove from oven and set aside.
- Strip kale from stems and cut leaves into thin ribbons. In a large pot over medium heat, add 2 Tbsp olive oil and 1 clove garlic. Stir/cook garlic about 1 minute and add in kale. Stir kale to cover with oil and add ¼ cup water. Stir once more, turn heat down to low and put lid on the pot. Check/stir kale every two minutes, cooking until tender – about 10-12 minutes. Drain excess liquid and set kale aside. Once cool, chop roughly.
- In medium saucepan over medium heat, warm 2 Tbsp olive oil until shimmering. Add onion and pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent and tender, about 5-8 minutes.
- Add garlic and tomato paste. Cook/stir about 1 minutes. Stir in crushed tomatoes, bay leaf and dried thyme; bring mixture to a simmer. Then, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer about 15 minutes until sauce has thickened. Remove pot from heat and stir in ¼ cup chopped basil and red pepper flakes. Take out bay leaf and add salt/pepper to taste.
- Spread about ¾ cup sauce in the bottom of a 9” square baking pan. Arrange about 1/3 of eggplant slices over sauce, overlapping slightly and cutting fit as needed. Add half of the braised kale on top, and then another ¾ cup sauce and ¼ cup mozzarella cheese.
- Put about half of the remaining eggplant slices evenly on top, followed by the rest of the kale, another ¾ cup sauce and ¼ cup mozzarella cheese. Layer remaining eggplant slices on top and top with ¾ cup sauce (you might have a little leftover) and remaining mozzarella cheese. Evenly sprinkle Parmesan on top.
- Bake on lower rack at 425°, uncovered, until sauce bubbles and top is golden, about 20-25 minutes. Let cool at least 15 minutes so it can set. Chop and sprinkle remaining ¼ cup basil on top. Slice with sharp or serrated knife and serve.
Note: Instead of making tomato sauce, you can use a 28 oz. jar of your favorite.