Monday, November 07, 2011

Eggplant Casserole

More work with eggplant. I had eggplant and tomatoes and cheese, which made me think of the dish I used to make that I called Eggplant Parmigiana, but was really more of a lasagna in which I used eggplant slices instead of noodles. It was the first dish I made on a regular basis that I had created myself, using lasagna as a template, and I must say it was pretty good, and it was a great go-to for company. But as my repertoire expanded, it fell by the wayside and I had not made it for years.

One of the reasons that my dish was not a true eggplant parmigiana is because I did not bread and fry the eggplant before layering it into the casserole dish. I just sliced it thinly lengthwise and layered it with the cheese and sauce. In those days, I pretty much used our family's spaghetti sauce recipe, which at that time was the only sauce we knew of for pasta (not to mention spaghetti being the only pasta of which we were aware other than macaroni, which we did not think of as pasta since it came out of that blue box and was mixed with milk, margarine, and that packet of powdered cheese and was one of my all-time favorite dishes. And lasagna noodles, which were a later discovery in our house, and again, was not pasta. It was lasagna!)

My family's spaghetti sauce was a mixture of onions, ground beef, several cans of tomato sauce, tomato paste, ground oregano and salt. (No pepper! Not in our house!) The recipe instructions were to cook it for a few hours but my mother never did, so while it always tasted good to me, it was watery and there would always be a pool of water underneath my spaghetti on the plate. I still remember what a revelation it was to me the first time I made it where I left on the stove to simmer all day, which resulted in a thick, velvety rich sauce. Wow. By then I was also using dried oregano instead of ground, and that also enhanced the flavor a great deal.

These days I usually just heat up some olive oil, add sliced garlic, throw in a can of whole tomatoes, some thyme, basil, salt and pepper, and cook it down for about half an hour and it is delicious with any kind of whole-wheat short pasta.

But I wanted to do something with eggplant. So I decided to make my old standby.

I must say it came out quite lovely. The only mistake I made (and I realized it as soon as I had done it) is that, when layering it, I put in a little bit of sauce, the eggplant, then the sauce, then the cheese. I should have put the cheese before the sauce, especially on the top layer. It didn't really affect the flavor, but it caused the cheese to separate from the eggplant so that there were two separate layers, rather than one cheezy oozy mess of goodness. But that is easily fixed, and I will not make that mistake again.

I am sure I will improve upon this dish in the future, but for now, here is what I did.
Home Cookin Chapter: My Recipes


Serves 4

1 large or 2 medium eggplants, sliced lengthwise into 1/2-inch thick pieces
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 batch tomato sauce (recipe follows)
1/2 lb fresh ricotta cheese
1 egg
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley (1 Tbsp dried), plus extra for garnish
8 oz grated mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmagiana Reggiano cheese

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. When it is hot, add the eggplant slices in one layer (cook in batches if necessary) and cook until browned, about 2-3 minutes and they release from the bottom of the pan. Turn the slices and brown them on the other side. Remove and set aside to cool.

In a small bowl, mix the ricotta cheese with the egg and parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat the oven to 350 deg. F. and grease an 8 x 12" casserole dish.

Spread about half a cup of the sauce in the bottom of a greased 8 x 9-inch casserole dish. Cover with a single layer of the eggplant slices (should be half of the total), then cover with half of the ricotta
cheese mixture and half the shredded mozzarella. Spread half of the tomato sauce over the cheese. Repeat one more layer, starting with the eggplant and ending with the tomato sauce.

Bake, covered, for 30 minutes, then remove the cover and sprinkle the Parmagiana Reggiano over the top and bake uncovered for another 30 minutes, until the cheese topping is golden brown.

Let sit for 15 minutes, the serve hot.


Exported from Home Cookin 6.46 (

Home Cookin Chapter: My Recipes


Makes 2-1/2 to 3 cups

2 Tbsp Olive Oil
4 to 6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced or finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 28-oz can of whole tomatoes (preferably San Marzano or plum)
2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried basil

Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until it just starts to brown. Add the tomatoes, salt, pepper, thyme and basil.

Break the tomatoes down while bringing to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, until the liquid has reduced to desired consistency.


Exported from Home Cookin 6.46 (

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