Grilling the vegetables before baking gives them a subtle smokiness that makes this casserole special. For extraordinary results, use fresh mozzarella (the kind stored in water at Italian delicatessens and cheese shops).
- Portion size 6 servings
- Credits : © CanadianLiving.com
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 onion chopped
- 2 garlic cloves finely chopped
- 1 can crushed tomato
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 eggplant peeled and cut lengthwise into 3/4-inch-thick slices
- 3 zucchinis scrubbed and cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick slices
- 2 red bell peppers tops and bottoms trimmed and reserved, flesh opened into 1 long strip, ribs and seeds removed
- 8 oz mozzarella cheese preferably fresh, thinly sliced
- 1/3 cup dried breadcrumbs
- 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes. Stir in the basil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Build a charcoal fire in an outdoor grill and let it burn until the coals are covered with white ashes. For a gas grill, pre-heat on High. Lightly oil the grill grate.
Brush the sliced eggplant and zucchini with the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil (or spray with olive oil in a mister). Place on the grill, and add the red pepper strips, tops, and bottoms, skin side down. Cover and grill, and removing each vegetable from the grill as it is cooked. Grill the eggplant and zucchini, turning once, until tender, about 8 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Grill the peppers until the skin is charred and blistered, about 10 minutes. Cool, then peel. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Lightly oil a 2-quart shallow baking dish.
Spread a thin layer of the tomato sauce in the bottom of the dish. Layer the vegetables (in any order), mozzarella, and remaining tomato sauce in the dish, ending with a layer of vegetables. Mix the breadcrumbs and Parmesan in a small bowl and sprinkle on top.
Bake until the juices are bubbling and the top is golden brown, about 30 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.