I love Eggplant Parmigiana (my husband makes an amazing version of it by the way) but most of the best recipes take a long, long time to make and you often have to fry the eggplant slices.
On my search to find a tasty eggplant recipe that was relatively easy to make and hearty, I found this great recipe from Everyday Food. Roasting the eggplant slices makes them sweeter and softer, so after you have baked the dish, you will end up eggplant that melts in your mouth! The recipe makes the perfect amount for dinner for two plus leftovers for lunch the next day (it tastes even better the next day!).
Eggplant Ricotta Bake
(Inspired by a recipe from Everyday Food – found here: http://to.pbs.org/qZLrmP)
Makes approximately 4 servings.
2 large eggplants (1 to 1 ¼ pounds each), sliced lengthwise ¾ inch thick (leave the skin on!)
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for your baking dish
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 container (15 ounces) part-skim ricotta cheese (approximately 1-2/3 cups)
3 large eggs
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil OR oregano (use dried if you don’t have fresh)
2 cups store-bought marinara sauce
Equipment you will need:
2 baking sheets
1 8×8 square baking dish
Preheat oven to 450°. Arrange eggplant slices in a single layer on two rimmed baking sheets. Brush lightly on both sides with oil; season with salt and pepper (watch the amount of salt you use!). Roast until eggplant is tender and golden, turning eggplant slices halfway through, for 25 to 30 minutes.
Note: if you have both baking sheets in the oven on different racks, you will have to switch the position of your trays halfway through, to avoid burning the eggplant on the lower rack.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together ricotta, eggs, ½ cup Parmesan, basil, 1 ½ teaspoons salt (Note: If you seasoned the eggplant slices with a lot of salt, you may NOT need any more in this part of the recipe), and ¼ teaspoons pepper.
Brush an 8-inch square baking dish with oil. Lay a fourth of eggplant slices in bottom of prepared dish; spread with half of marinara sauce. Top with another fourth of eggplant; spread with half of ricotta mixture. Repeat layers, ending with ricotta; sprinkle with remaining ½ cup Parmesan. Bake until bubbling and golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before serving.
I enjoy serving this with a garden salad on the side for a tasty after-work meal. This also tastes great with some buttered spaghetti on the side (freshly cooked spaghetti tossed with a few tablespoons of butter, a little bit of salt, fresh ground pepper and chopped parsley if you have it).
P.S. The Eggplant Ricotta Bake is terrific the next day as the flavours develop even more. It’s one of those work day lunches you will look forward to eating!