Eggplant Parmesan Casserole

We received two beautiful Japanese eggplants in our CSA last week and loved this recipe so much we actually purchased two more Japanese eggplants from our CSA farmer this past weekend so that we could make it again. These eggplants are more elongated in shape and seemed much less watery than traditional eggplant which can sometimes bog down dishes. The casserole is flavorful enough that the side of pasta isn't necessary but I wanted to bulk the dish up a little bit and the alfredo added another layer of flavor. Canned tomato sauce is absolutely fine but we blended together some Roma tomatoes from our CSA in order to use up another ingredient. 

Recipe slightly adapted from Lick My Spoon

-2 Japanese eggplants (ours were 9.75 ounces combined)
-4 roma tomatoes, diced
-A handful of fresh basil
-3 garlic cloves, minced
-7 ounces ricotta cheese
-4 ounces mozzarella cheese
-1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
-1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Slice the eggplant into about 1/4 inch rounds and spread out onto a foil-lined baking sheet. Spray with cooking spray and distribute a dash of salt. Flip the rounds and spray again with cooking spray, distribute another dash of salt.

Roast for thirty minutes, flipping the rounds after fifteen. Remove from the oven and reduce the heat to 375 degrees.

Heat cooking spray or a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a saute pan over medium heat, then add the minced garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the diced tomatoes along with a dash of salt and pepper, and bring to a simmer, letting cook for 5-10 minutes so the tomatoes can soften and some of the juices can reduce. After 5 minutes, slice and add the basil, or other Italian herbs and stir.

Take a loaf pan, and spread a small quantity of tomato juice, if any remains, or sauce on the bottom. Layer one third of the roasted eggplant, one third of the tomato sauce, one third of the ricotta cheese, one third of the mozzarella cheese, sliced, and one third of the Parmesan. Repeat in order for two additional layers.

Cover and bake for 25 minutes. Remove cover, sprinkle evenly with bread crumbs, spray with cooking spray, and return to the oven, for an additional 5 minutes, or 1-2 minutes on broil. Let cool 5 minutes before serving. If serving with pasta, prepare per package instructions while the casserole bakes.


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