In Athens, ouzeris, or ouzo bars, feature small tapas-style appetizers like this one along with plenty of the anise-flavored liqueur.
- 2 eggplants (about 3 lbs. total)
- Coarse salt
- Olive oil (preferably a fruity Greek extra-virgin olive oil)
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 3 lb. fresh tomatoes (or 1 28-oz. can drained plum tomatoes), coarsely chopped
- 1 tsp. ground cardamom
- 1 tsp. sugar
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1⁄4 cup grated fresh kasseri or kefalotyri cheese, or a combination of both
- Peel eggplants and slice each one into 1⁄2″-thick rounds, then sprinkle with coarse salt. Place in a colander and let drain, weighted, for 1⁄2 hour. Pat dry.
- Brush eggplant rounds on both sides with olive oil. Brown in a large heavy skillet over high heat, adding more oil if necessary. Drain on paper towels.
- In the same pan, heat 2 tbsp. olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and garlic, and cook 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, cardamom, sugar, and pepper to taste, and cook 5 minutes more.
- Layer fried eggplant rounds and tomato sauce in four small baking dishes, and top each with an equal amount of cheese. Bake at 350° until cheese has melted, about 20 minutes.