I love to invite friends over to dinner. This gives me the opportunity to try out new recipes. Conventional knowledge would tell you not to try new recipes on guests… experiment on your own first and then share with others. Well, you know what, I don’t agree.
This is an eggplant recipe that I created by mixing and matching elements of several other recipes I have seen and tasted and I even experimented something I had never tried before and actually turned out really good. I wanted to do Eggplant in my latest dinner party because my best friend Ana Yolanda is an eggplant FAN. I made enough so she would have left overs… a testament to the quality of the results and a shame for her, but her husband ate ALL of the leftovers.
Don’t worry Ana, I’ll make it again JUST FOR YOU!!!
serves about 8
3-4 medium eggplants**, unpeeled, sliced in about 1/2 inch-thick slices
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups of seasoned whole wheat breadcrumbs
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese plus more for sprinkling in between eggplant layers
Salt and Pepper
1/2 cup marinara sauce fresh mozzarella cheese for the topping
**I learned that you should try to get as light an eggplant as you can find to ensure they have the least amount of seeds and minimize any bitterness
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Dunk the eggplant slices in the buttermilk for like half a minute. This will give the eggplant slices something sticky so the breadcrumbs stick.
- Place breadcrumbs in a shallow dish. Coat the eggplant slices with the breadcrumbs. Set aside for a few minutes to let the coating stick a bit.
- Heat a very thin layer of olive oil in a skillet. (Note: you’ll need a good amount of oil, because the eggplants will soak it. But you need to add a little bit with each batch so the eggplants brown. If not, they’ll just boil and become limp.) Fry the eggplant slices in batches. Set aside and drain on paper towels.
- In a bowl, mix together the ricotta cheese, half-and-half, most of the Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.
- In a large glass pyrex, spoon a bit of sauce at the bottom, place a shingled layer of fried eggplants, smear the ricotta mixture all over, spoon a bit more marinara sauce, place a second layer of fried eggplants, spoon the last of the marinara sauce and top it all off with the remaining Parmesan cheese. Finish off with the slices of fresh mozzarella cheese.
- Place the pyrex in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, until the cheese on top is browned and sauce bubbly.
- Let it rest for a little while because it can burn if you eat it right away. Serve warm.
Instead of marinara sauce, I made a marinated tomatoes sauce. Simple, mix together all these ingredients and let the flavors marry while the eggplants are frying – Crushed Tomatoes (try for them to be in a jar and not a can – you know, less additives), Olive oil, salt, pepper, fresh basil and minced fresh garlic.