Hometown Recipes: Japanese Eggplant And Three Cheese Bake
By: Erin Walgamuth
Even though I am not a vegetarian, I do love to cook and eat meatless meals. I think it’s a nice, and might I say healthy, way to change up your week day meals and include some that are animal protein free. Fortunately my family never complains when I make these dishes.
Eggplant is one of my favorite vegetables and I look forward to having it in my summer garden. Of course, this is Santa Clarita where it snows in April, so my vegetable garden has not even been planted yet…next week maybe? Fortunately for us, you can find eggplant in just about any supermarket, just about any time of year.
This is a fairly quick meal to make as I don’t bake or fry the eggplant. You can even microwave the eggplant the day before you want to make this dish. Just store it in an air-tight food container (layers separated by plastic wrap) in the refrigerator until you are ready to assemble. I like using Japanese eggplant for this recipe as it cooks up quickly in the microwave, making this a less time consuming recipe then most eggplant dishes.
You will need
4 quart baking dish
Offset spatula or a tablespoon
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
Prep and active time is about 25 minutes
Cook time is about 45 minutes
2 ¼ - 2 ½ pounds Japanese eggplant (about 6 or 7), washed and stem ends removed
24oz jar of your favorite marinara sauce
15oz tub of ricotta cheese
16oz block of mozzarella cheese, grated (will yield 5-6 cups)
3/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese
4-5 tablespoon olive oil
Sea salt or kosher salt
Note: Use any combination of dried herbs you wish. Count your eggplant slices and divide them in half as you will need two layers of eggplant.
Put 1 cup of marinara in bottom of baking dish and spread evenly with spatula or spoon.
Slice eggplant length-wise into ¼ inch slices, discard skin covered end pieces. Place four to six eggplant slices on a microwave safe plate. Drizzle eggplant slices with one tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Microwave on high for 3 ½ minutes. Place eggplant slices in the marinara sauce. Do this in batches until you have covered the bottom of the dish with eggplant slices (you do not need to overlap slices). Sprinkle layer of eggplant slices with granulated garlic and dried herbs. Sprinkle2 cups of mozzarella over the eggplant slices. Scatter 6 tablespoon of ricotta over eggplant slices. Sprinkle ¼ cup of grated parmesan cheese across the top.
Dollop one cup of marinara across the cheese layer, spread as best you can with spatula or spoon. Place next batch of microwave eggplant slices over sauce. Sprinkle with granulated garlic and dried herbs. Sprinkle eggplant slices with 2 cups mozzarella. Scatter 6 tablespoons of ricotta over eggplant slices. Sprinkle ¼ cup of grated parmesan cheese across the top.
Dollop last cup of marinara across the cheese layer, spread as best you can with spatula or spoon. Sprinkle the remainder of the mozzarella cheese over the marinara. Dollop the remainder of ricotta cheese evenly across the top of the mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle ¼ cup of the parmesan cheese evenly across the top of mozzarella and ricotta cheeses. Sprinkle granulated garlic and dried herbs over the top of the cheese layer.
Bake in the pre-heated oven for 45 minutes or until eggplant is tender when pierced with a fork and the sauce is bubbling.
Erin Walgamuth has been an assistant Food Stylist for television and print for the past 26 years and writes this column using her own recipes. Check out her other creations in our Hometown Recipe section.
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