Eggplant Ricotta Bake
If you are Italian, you know that traditional preparation of this ultimate comfort food coats the eggplant slices in seasoned breadcrumbs to fry in olive oil before layering with homemade sauce and cheese. While Grandma's version is beyond delicious, there is a lot of fat and CALORIES.
This version eliminates the 'frying' step, instead the eggplant is roasted, which concentrates the flavor. While not traditional, I love the added ricotta 'lasagna' layer that serves as the protein. I like the eggplant to shine, so I do not add too many herbs or spices. A wonderful dish that is even better the following day! Soft squishy Italian Comfort food. Mangia!
- One large or two medium eggplant, nice and firm, about 1 1/2 pounds, peeled and cubed into 1 inch dice
- 3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
- One, 15 ounce container, part-skim ricotta cheese, (NOT fat free, as it will contain gums and starches that lend an odd texture)
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- One, 4-ounce package part-skim mozzarella cheese, freshly shredded
- 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- One, 16 ounce jar store bought marinara sauce
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange eggplant on a baking sheet that has been coated with nonstick vegetable cooking spray. Drizzle with the olive oil, season with salt and bake until lightly browned and tender, 20 to 25 minutes, turning halfway through. Remove from oven to cool.
- Blend ricotta with eggs, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, mozzarella, parsley, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
- Arrange about half of the roasted eggplant cubes in an even layer in an 8 inch baking dish and spoon on about 1/2 cup of marinara sauce. Spread with the ricotta mixture, and arrange the remaining roasted eggplant in a top layer. Spoon on dollops of another 1/2 cup of the marinara sauce.
- Bake in a 350 degree preheated oven 20 to 25 minutes, until bubbling and golden. Cool 10 minutes before serving. Heat remaining sauce and spoon over the plated dish.