10 to 12 buffet servings
4 eggplants (about 2 pounds), sliced 1/4-inch lengthwise
5 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions (8 ounces), diced
1 3/4 cup long grain rice
2 1/2 cups hot beef broth
1 tablespoon butter
1/3 cup chopped basil 1/3 cup chopped parsley
3 pounds plum tomatoes (about 12), skinned and diced About 1 cup peanut oil
1 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Place the eggplant slic,es in a large colander in layers, and salt between the layers. Let the eggplant "sweat" for 1 hour.
In a skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, add half the onions and saute' them for 2 minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat the rice with the oil-onion mixture. Let the rice "toast" or brown for about 5 to 6 minutes, stirring often. Add the beef broth, lower the heat, and simmer the rice covered until all of the liquid is absorbed. Add 1/2 cup of the grated cheese and set the rice aside.
In a saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of the remaining olive oil and the butter. Add the remaining onion, basil and parsley, and saute' the mixture until the onions are soft. Add the tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste and simmer the mixture, covered, for 25 minutes. Set aside.
Rinse and dry the eggplant slices well.
In a large skillet, heat half the peanut oil. Add the eggplant slices, a few at a time, frying them quickly on both sides until they begin to brown slightly. Remove the eggplant to brown paper to drain. Add additional peanut oil as needed to fry the remaining eggplant slices.
Preheat the oven to 375
Brush a 13 1/2 x 8-inch casserole with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add a layer of eggplant to cover the bottom of the casserole. Cover the slices with 1/3 of the rice and 1/3 of the tomato sauce. Continue layering eggplant, rice and sauce, ending with a top layer of eggplant and tomato sauce
Sprinkle on the remaining grated cheese. Cover the casserole tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Serve immediately.
Note: To make ahead, bake as directed first. Let the casserole cool completely, then wrap tightly and freeze for up to a month To use, defrost the casserole in the refrigerator, then reheat in the oven.
Featured in episode 611
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