from Hallie Harron

Serves 4

Tians are traditional rustic provincial casserole dishes that are oven proof and pretty enough to bring right to the table. A regular oval gratin or casserole is also just fine for this. The eggplant technique, given to me by author Mary Evans was need to salt it and saves lots of time and oil that usually goes into frying. The mild eggplant devours the flavor from the sauce and is soft, succulent and delicious.

1 medium eggplant, about 1 lb, sliced ¼-inch thick
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 medium fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
3 large tomatoes, cored and roughly chopped
1 cup fresh basil, chopped
3 ozs fresh mozzarella, hand shredded
4 eggs, beaten
½ cup pitted Kalamata olives

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Oil an 10-inch oval tian, gratin or oven-proof skillet. Heat a large pot of salted water to boiling. Place eggplant slices in water and boil for 5 minutes. Remove with tongs to a paper towel and pat dry.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium. Add fennel, onion, garlic and season with salt and pepper. Sauté for 5 minutes or until onion has softened. Add tomatoes and cook for 7-8 minutes. The tomatoes will give off their juice and the liquid will have evaporated. Stir in ½ cup basil. Remove from heat. Line the bottom of the prepared pan with eggplant slices. Top with tomato mixture.

Pour eggs over the top. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and top with cheese and olives and remaining basil. Bake for an additional 20 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.