I often look at egg plant in the store, but don’t cook with it much. I’ve eaten it, but never found it to be amazing. I think it’s sortof like tofu and it takes on the flavors of the food around it but is not really all that interesting on its own. I had recently viewed a show on the food network channel and made the decision to buy Japanese eggplant! This variety are sweeter and don’t have seeds like regular eggplants do, although the seeds in the larger ones are edible. The smaller ones are also less likely to be bitter. Unfortunately, our store didn’t have the ones that I wanted so I just grabbed one anyways! Ideally, I would try to select one that is about the length of a medium cucumber and the general circumference of a large pear would be about right.
Eggplant comes loaded with vitamins and minerals, and include an impressive array across the board of many vitamins and minerals. They have an excellent amount of fiber, folate, potassium and manganese, as well as vitamins C, K, and B6, phosphorus, copper, thiamin, niacin, magnesium, and pantothenic acid. But their health benefits extend beyond just adding nutrients to a meal. It contains other compounds that promote good health as well, even to the point of helping to prevent cancer and lowering cholesterol, which is a good thing!
I would have liked to call this dish a lasagna, but I didn’t sweat out the eggplant prior to using it and hadn’t realized the abundant amount of water they contained, so it became a “stew”! I created it out of ingredients that I had on hand and it turned out delicious, none the less.
For the eggplant:
1 Eggplant, large, thinly sliced
For the sauce:
1 Cups Prepared Pasta Sauce
2 Cups homemade Red Sauce, (or just more prepared but it’s what I had on hand)
For the ricotta layer:
8 oz container ricotta Con Latte
1 large egg
1/2 Cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
1/3 Cup Mozzarella Cheese, shredded
2/3 Cup Mozzarella Cheese, sliced thin
2 Tablespoons Spinach Pesto
For the topping:
8 oz Mozzarella Cheese, shredded
Slice the eggplant using a mandolin so it’s thin. The step that I did not do and have since read about is to fry the eggplant slices in a skillet, a few at a time until browned on each side and then set aside before layering. I also read about sweating out the eggplant, but I’m not sure if I will do that or not next time?
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Use your favorite prepared sauce, or a combination of that and homemade. (I like to mix them and always have my red sauce on hand.)
Combine the ricotta, parmesan, shredded mozzarella, egg, and pesto. In a baking dish, spoon a thin layer of sauce on the bottom.
Begin layering with the eggplant slices, ricotta mixture, and sliced cheese.
Repeat and finish with the layer of eggplant slices and some sauce on top. Cover the dish with foil, place on a baking sheet and bake for about 40 minutes. Remove the foil, sprinkle on a bit more mozzarella cheese and bake until bubbly, about 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool slightly and set before serving.