With 20 days until Christmas, it’s time to get into the spirit! My recipe for Baked Eggplant with Ricotta Cheese is perfect for a veggie weekday meal. You can prepare in the morning, and finish it in the oven for Tuesday’s dinner.
Before I dish out the recipe, here’s a gentle reminder to order your copy of SUNDAY BEST DISHES today! It’s the perfect Xmas gift for the foodie on your Christmas list! Jorj.com subscribers — OR any subscriber who emails me, actually — gets a FREE autographed bookplate to insert into the book! Send an email to Jorj.com that includes your mailing address and the name you want me to personalize!! Oh, and get cooking!
The prep work on this one fills your kitchen with an incredibly pleasing aroma. See what I mean?
Another bonus is that the herbs have an almost Christmasy look – well, in my holiday kitchen they do:
Baked Eggplant with Ricotta Cheese
MAKES 6 SERVINGS
This vegetarian delight is every bit as filling as traditional lasagna, and special because of its closeness, yet differences to eggplant parmesan. It’s ooey, gooey and totally yummy!
2 (1-pound) eggplants, sliced into ¼-inch rounds, about 27 slices
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups Italian style breadcrumbs
Preheat the oven to 350°. Season the eggplant slices with salt. Place into a colander in the sink for 1 hour. This will take the bitterness from the eggplant. Rinse the slices and pat dry. Heat 2 tablespoons canola oil in large non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Dredge the eggplant in the breadcrumbs, pushing the crumbs into each slice. Add as many eggplant slices that easily fit into your skillet. Brown on one side, turn and brown on the other side until golden. (As the eggplant cooks, it will immediately absorb most of the oil. As it continues cooking, it will start to exude that oil back into the pan. Watch carefully as you cook.) Remove the eggplant to a baking sheet, lined with paper towels. Season with salt and pepper. Continue until all of the eggplant slices are browned. Add more oil as you cook a new batch.
½ cup whole milk ricotta cheese
¼ cup organic half and half
1 large egg
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated, about ½ cup
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 ½ cups marinara sauce
12 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
Whisk together the ricotta cheese, half and half, egg, Parmesan cheese and nutmeg. Coat an 11 x 7 x 2-inch baking dish with vegetable oil spray. Spoon ½ cup of the marinara into the bottom of the dish. Place a layer of eggplant slices into the bottom of the baking dish. Top with 1 cup marinara sauce. Place ½ of the mozzarella cheese over the sauce. Top with another layer of eggplant. Repeat with 1 cup marinara and the remaining mozzarella cheese. Top with the last layer of eggplant. Pour the remaining marinara sauce over top. Spoon the ricotta cheese topping over all. Bake until the casserole is bubbling and the top is golden, about 30 minutes. Increase the oven temperature to the broil setting. Place the casserole under the broiler for a few minutes to brown the topping.
Let the casserole rest for 15 minutes before cutting into squares.