In fact I enjoyed this dish more than eggplant parmesan. There I said it. ITS TRUE!
I felt I could still really taste the eggplant, where often in a eggplant parm I just taste cheese and sauce. Its crucial for me to find dishes that enhance the flavor of the vegetable instead of covering it up.
Eggplant, also known as aubergine, is a versatile vegetable and one I should use more off. Its great for us vegetarians(or fake vegetarians like me) who want something with a meaty texture. Eggplant is hearty and can prepared in so many different ways. I will be cooking more this stuff, because it is just so darn good.
I used two medium saute pans at the same time to speed up the cooking. You can use a large saute pan or two medium ones, mostly depends on how much time you have.
In this recipe she recommends using individual gratin dishes. It's unlikely Ill ever own a set of those, so I used a large pie plate, but any large shallow baking dish will do.
My picture is a bit misleading I accidently added WAY too much parmesan on top. It is suppose to be a light sprinkling, not the total coverage that I ended up doing. As mistakes go, this one was an awesome one, who doesn't like more cheese? But if you want it to be more traditional, add only a small amount of parmesan on top.
Regardless this dish is impressive and a great one to serve if you are having guest, especially vegetarian ones. It is delicate, yet hearty and the flavors work incredibly together. On the side you can serve a great recipe for zucchini: Zucchini with Parmesan
Note: To check if the oil is hot, get a couple drops of water on your hands and flick it into the oil. If it oil reacts, aka sizzles, then its ready for frying. If the oil does not react, wait.
The Goods: serves 4
1 1/2 pounds eggplant, sliced 1/2 thick
1/2 cup skim milk ricotta cheese
2 large eggs
1/2 cup half and half
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, divided
Freshly ground pepper
1 cup good Marinara Sauce, such as Newmans Own or Harvest Organic
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
2. Heat 1-2 tablespoons of oil(just enough to coat the pan) in a large frying pan over medium heat. When the oil is almost smoking(see note) add several slices of the eggplant and cook, turning once until they are evenly browned, about 5 minutes. Once they are cooked transfer to a plate with paper towels to drain. Add more oil and repeat until all the eggplant slices are cooked.
3. While the eggplant is cooking, in a small bowl combine ricotta, eggs, half-and-half, 1/2 cup of the parmesan, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
4. In your large baking dish, place a layer of eggplant slices, then sprinkle with a pinch of parmesan, salt, pepper, and then spoon on the marinara sauce. Next add your remaining eggplants, more salt and pepper, the ricotta mixture and finish with 4 tablespoons of the parmesan.
5. Place the dish on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Then lower the heat to 375 and bake for another 20 minutes or so, or until the top is browned and the sauce is hot and bubbling.
Serve warm and enjoy! You have just made a gratin, you are moving up in the world!