You’ll have more than enough Smoked Tomato Sauce for this recipe, so save the remainder to toss with pasta for a quick weeknight meal. If you don’t want to go to the effort of making the Smoked Tomato Sauce, simply buzz up some good canned tomatoes and add smoked paprika to taste. For the filling, you can add or substitute any sautéed vegetable that you like, such as mushrooms or zucchini.–John Ash
LC The Right Pan Note
To really make a truly towering torta, you need a 9-inch springform cake pan. No ifs, ands, or buts.
Eggplant Torta with Smoked Tomato Sauce Recipe
Hands-On Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes | Total Time: 3 hours | Serves 8 to 10
- For the smoked tomato sauce
- 2 pounds ripe tomatoes, halved and seeded
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup diced red onion
- 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano, or 1 teaspoon dried
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- A few drops balsamic vinegar
- For the torta
- 4 eggplants (4 pounds), cut lengthwise into 1/3-inch-thick slices
- Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing, plus 2 tablespoons
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 3 tablespoons minced garlic
- 2 1/2 pounds fresh ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
- 1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
- 1 teaspoon crushed fennel seeds
- 1/3 cup dry white wine
- 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for topping
- 6 ounces mozzarella or Monterey Jack cheese, coarsely grated
- 3 large eggs, beaten with 2 tablespoons of water, until light
- Smoked Tomato Sauce
- Make the smoked tomato sauce
- 1. Place the tomatoes in a single layer in a roasting pan. In a smoker or a grill with a lid, put green fruit wood or wood chips that have been soaked in water for 3 to 4 hours on the hot coals. Replace the grill rack. Set the roasting pan of tomatoes on the grill. Cover the grill, leaving a vent open to keep the coals burning. Smoke the tomatoes for at least 20 minutes to develop the flavor. Let cool enough to handle, and chop the tomatoes.
- 2. In a saute pan, heat the olive oil and saute the onion, garlic, and oregano until the onion is soft but not brown. Add the wine. Increase the heat and cook, stirring, until the liquid has mostly evaporated. Add the smoked tomatoes and simmer, uncovered, for 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor and purée. Press though a strainer and return the sauce to the pan. Season to taste with salt and pepper and a few drops balsamic vinegar. If a thinner sauce is desired, add some water.
- Make the torta
- 3. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Lightly brush the eggplant slices with some olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. In two batches if necessary, place the eggplant in a single layer on baking sheets and bake for 20 minutes, until lightly browned and softened. Let cool. Lower the oven temperature to 350°F (175°C).
- 4. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat the 2 tablespoons olive oil and saute the garlic for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, basil, fennel seeds, and wine. Simmer until thickened, about 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- 5. Lightly oil the bottom and sides of a 9-by-2-inch springform pan. Line the bottom and sides of the pan with a layer of the eggplant slices; the eggplant should hang over the rim by at least 3 inches. Spoon in one-third of the tomato sauce. Top with one-third of the Parmesan cheese and mozzarella. Add another layer of eggplant, trimming to fit snugly. Add the second third of the tomato sauce, followed by a second third of the cheeses. Add a third layer of the eggplant, followed by the remaining tomato sauce and cheeses. Top with the remaining eggplant. Using a sharp knife or metal skewer, poke holes down through the layers. Pour the egg mixture over the top so that it soaks in evenly. Fold the overlapping edges of eggplant over the top and sprinkle with a little Parmesan cheese.
- 6. Place the springform pan containing the torta on a rimmed baking sheet and bake at 350°F (175°C) for 35 to 40 minutes. Remove and let stand for at least 10 minutes.
- 7. Run a knife around the edge of the pan before releasing the side of the pan. Serve the torta cut into wedges and surrounded by the Smoked Tomato Sauce. The torta may be served warm or at room temperature.
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Eggplant Torta with Smoked Tomato Sauce Recipe © 1995 and 2007 John Ash and Sid Goldstein. All rights reserved.