La Vera Cucina

Eggplant Maria Assunta

Originally from Calabria, Eugenio Garofalo pleases the Yonkers, NY, regulars at his restaurant Euroitalia Pizza with a variety of traditional Old Country entrées and, of course, pizza. One of his own personal favorites is his Eggplant Maria Assunta, served with sautéed rapini and grilled zucchini. This homestyle eggplant dish is lighter and more flavorful than many American versions of eggplant Parmigiano. Its name, Maria Assunta, refers to the day that the Blessed Mother Maria traditionally ascended into heaven.



  • 1 medium eggplant, thinly sliced*
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 8 large canned plum tomatoes, sliced lengthwise
  • ½ cup freshly ground Romano cheese
  • 8 slices of mozzarella cheese (⅛” thick)
  • 2 tablespoons juice from canned tomatoes

* Soak fresh eggplant slices overnight in salt brine to remove bitter flavor. When done, rinse away saltiness with fresh water. Then lightly fry in extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. Turn after a minute or two so that both sides are lightly browned.


In a baking dish, lay down a layer of eggplant, top with breadcrumbs and then sliced plum tomato. Dust with Romano cheese; add a slice of mozzarella. Repeat by adding a second layer of eggplant, breadcrumbs, tomato, Romano, and mozzarella. Sprinkle top with breadcrumbs. Spoon tomato juice over top to help prevent mozzarella from burning. Top off with a drizzle or two of extra virgin olive oil. Bake at 500°F for 15 minutes, until mozzarella begins to melt. Serve hot with sautéed rapini and grilled zucchini (below).

Sautéed Rapini

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small bunch broccoli rabe (rapini), blanched
  • salt, pepper, and chopped garlic to taste

Briefly sauté rapini in extra virgin olive oil over medium heat until reaching al dente firmness. Season with salt, pepper, and crushed garlic to taste.

Grilled Zucchini

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 small zucchini, sliced lengthwise

Brush sliced zucchini with extra virgin olive oil and briefly grill on both sides just long enough to create grill marks.