- Course: Main Course
- Skill Level: Moderate
- Cost: Moderate
- Favorited: 77 Times
Over the years we’ve always had at least one, and sometimes even a whole contingent, of vegetarians on our staff. As a result, our meals include dishes that will meet everyone’s needs. This is a “crossover” dish that always delights both vegetarians and meat eaters. The addition of ricotta lends a touch of creaminess, making the casserole much more satisfying than the usual version. I bake this in a shallow rather than a deep pan, which prevents the eggplant from becoming too soggy.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups fine dry bread crumbs (see Notes)
- 4 large eggs
- 2 small eggplants (about 12 ounces each), peeled and cut into ¼-inch rounds
- 1/3 to ½ cup olive oil, or more as needed
- Kosher salt, to taste
- 4 cups Tasty Basic Tomato Sauce or good-quality commercial tomato sauce
- 1 container (15 ounces) ricotta cheese
- 1 pound commercial mozzarella cheese, sliced
- ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
2. Spread out the flour and bread crumbs on separate plates, then beat the eggs in a shallow bowl. Dip each eggplant slice first in the flour to coat lightly on both sides, then in the egg, coating completely. Finally, dip the slice in the bread crumbs to coat well on both sides, shaking off any excess. Arrange the slices as they are coated in one layer on a baking sheet, making sure they don’t touch, while you coat the remaining slices.
3. Heat 1/3 cup of the oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add only enough eggplant slices to fit into the skillet without touching and fry, sprinkling with salt, until they’re golden brown on each side, about 1 minute per side. Transfer to paper towels to drain while you fry the remaining slices, adding oil to the skillet as needed.
4. Spread about ¾ cup of the tomato sauce over the bottom of a 16 × 9-inch baking pan. Add half the fried eggplant slices in an even layer, then dot the eggplant with the ricotta. Drizzle ½ cup of the tomato sauce over the ricotta. Add a layer of the remaining eggplant slices and pour the remaining tomato sauce evenly over the eggplant. Arrange the mozzarella slices over the sauce and sprinkle the Parmesan on top. Bake until hot and bubbling and the cheese is melted and a little browned, about 30 minutes.
5. Remove the dish from the oven and let stand for 5 minutes before cutting into portions to serve.
For fresh crumbs: I use soft, fresh bread crumbs to bind together ingredients in dishes where a slightly moist texture is desired. One slice of bread will yield a scant ½ cup of fresh bread crumbs. Use bread with a firm crumb such as a day-old peasant loaf, Italian bread, or as a last resort, a packaged sliced bread like Pepperidge Farm or Arnold. Trim away the crust, tear or cut the bread into pieces, and pulse them in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Ideally, homemade fresh bread crumbs should be used the day they’re made, but no longer than a day or two later. If this isn’t possible, they can be frozen in an airtight container, where they will keep indefinitely.
For dry crumbs: To make the best dry bread crumbs, the bread must be perfectly dry. To dry it, arrange the slices in one layer on a baking sheet and place in a preheated 300°F oven until the bread is thoroughly dried out and lightly browned. For coarse crumbs, break the dried bread into pieces and grind in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. For fine crumbs, use the processor but fit it with the grating blade.
Homemade dry bread crumbs can be stored in an airtight container or zipper-lock plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, or frozen for up to 6 months. One slice of bread will yield approximately 1/3 cup of dry bread crumbs.
© 2000 David Waltuck and Melicia Phillips
Nutritional information is based on using 1/3 cup of olive oil to fry the eggplant slices.
Nutritional information is based on 1/8 teaspoon added salt per serving.
Nutritional information does not include Tasty Basic Tomato Sauce recipe. For nutritional information on Tasty Basic Tomato Sauce recipe, please follow the link above.