I love eggplant . . .
EGGPLANT PARMESAN CASSEROLE
Makes 6 Servings
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
- 2 large eggplants
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 3/4 cup ricotta cheese
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup shredded pepper Jack cheese
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 garlic cloves, sliced
- 3 cups tomato sauce
- 1/2 cup water
- 3/4 cup breadcrumbs
Slice 6 half-inch rounds from the widest part of each eggplant (12 total); reserve. Cut the skin off the remaining pieces of eggplant and cut into a small dice; reserve.
In a hot sauté pan, with a few drips of olive oil, cook the eggplant slices, with a pinch of salt, for about 3 minutes per side to soften. Work in batches and when done place them on paper towels to cool. The paper will absorb the excess juice drawn out by the salt (these juices can be bitter).
While the eggplant slices are cooling, add the ricotta, Parmesan, Jack cheese to a bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and stir to combine. Spoon the cheese mixture on to 6 of the eggplant slices, dividing evenly. Press the other 6 eggplant slices on top to sandwich the cheese in between; reserve.
Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the saute pan, and over medium heat, add the garlic and cook until it begins to sizzle (do not brown). Add the diced eggplant and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Add the water, tomato sauce, and pepper flakes; cook on low for 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Pour half the sauce mixture on the bottom of a small casserole dish. Place the 6 cheese-filled eggplant slices on the sauce, and pour over the rest of the sauce. Spread evenly so all the eggplant is covered. In a small bowl mix the breadcrumbs, 1/2 cup of Parmesan, and 2 tablespoon of olive oil. Spread over the eggplant.
Bake in a preheated 375 degrees F. for 40 minutes, or until the casserole is bubbling and the top is browned and crisp. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.
[Eggplant will soak up 17.4 times its own weight in oil!]