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This old Neapolitan recipe makes a delightful first course or antipasto, and it is much easier to make than it sounds. Using ordinary pear-shaped eggplants makes preparation a piece of cake. The best mozzarella is sold as small balls floating in little tubs of water and smells like sweet farm fresh milk; with some of that and a big chunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano, this dish should quickly become a new favorite. If these ingredients are not available, try sliced mozzarella, and thinly sliced ham will work in place of the prosciutto.
2 oval eggplants, white or purple
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Wash eggplants carefully and cut off top and bottom. Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise, end to end. Then continue cutting the eggplants into 1/4 inch thick slices. If you have a mandoline it will make this part go much faster.
3. Cut prosciutto or ham to roughly the width of the eggplant slices. Depending on the mozzarella you use, either cut the balls in slices about 1/4-inch thick, or slice the block about the same width as the prosciutto or ham. Rinse basil leaves and pat dry on spread-out paper towels.
4. Brush eggplant slices with olive oil and place a few at a time in a large skillet, over medium-high heat. Sautee, turning until very lightly golden on both sides and softened. Set aside on paper towels to cool.
5. On a large flat work area, lay out one eggplant slice. On it, layer one slice prosciutto, and two or three basil leaves, and the mozzarella, followed by a dash of salt and pepper. Starting at the small end, roll it up and run through with a toothpick to hold.
6. Place the roll-ups in a baking dish and top with the tomato sauce. Sprinkle the Parmigiano-Reggiano over the top. Bake for 25 minutes. Let stand five minutes and serve hot.