Eggplant Ricotta Bake

 

 

 

 

 

Eggplant Ricotta Bake
Author: 
Recipe type: Vegetarian, Entrée
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Yield: 4 servings
 
In early Fall, there is an abundance of beautiful, shiny, purple eggplants in the markets. I like to make one of my favorite eggplant dishes that I adapted from Martha Stewart. It is classic comfort food and reminds me of lasagna, but without all the pasta carbs. It is great made the same day, but it might be even better reheated the next day…At least that is what I found when eating the leftovers! This casserole serves 4, but you can double the ingredients and use a 9x13 dish instead of the 8x8 dish. Using Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (freshly grated with a microplane and pressed lightly into the cup) will give you especially rich flavor. You can use your favorite pasta sauce. I made mine with Prego mushroom sauce.
Ingredients
  • 2 large eggplants (1 1/4 pounds each)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for the baking dish
  • Coarse salt and fresh ground black pepper to season the eggplant
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 container (15 ounces) part-skim ricotta cheese (1 2/3 cups)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (divided use)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano (or 2 teaspoons dried)
  • 16 ounces store-bought or home-made pasta sauce (2 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh basil leaves
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Slice the eggplants lengthwise into 3/4 inch thick slices. Arrange the eggplant slices in a single layer on two rimmed baking sheets lined with aluminum foil or non-stick silicone liners such as Silpat. Brush lightly with oil and season with salt and pepper. Turn the slices over and oil and season the second side. A silicone pastry brush makes for easy application and clean-up. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes until the eggplant is tender and golden, turning halfway through to brown both sides.
  2. While the eggplant is baking, whisk together the ricotta, eggs, 1/2 cup of the Parmesan cheese, oregano, salt, and pepper. Brush an 8-inch square baking dish with oil.
  3. Divide the eggplant slices into 4 similar quantities for layering. It is fine if you need to cut some of the pieces. Place one layer of the eggplant slices into the bottom of the oiled dish. Spread with 1 cup of pasta sauce. An offset spatula can help make the layers even. Place another eggplant layer. Spread with half of the ricotta mixture. Repeat the layers, ending with a ricotta layer. Distribute the remaining 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese over the top. Reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Bake until bubbling and golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before serving with the chopped basil leaves garnishing each portion.

 

Mean Woman Pasta

Mean Woman Pasta
Author: 
Recipe type: Salads, Vegetarian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Yield: 12-16 sides
 
Here is another very versatile salad that is great for potlucks. It is best after it has marinated for a minimum of several hours, so it is a good salad to prepare the day before you plan to serve it, with no last minute effort other than a quick re-stir. If you are going to a party with a loved one, make sure you both eat some, as garlic has a strong role in this. As with other pasta salads, it can go a long way and is inexpensive, especially in the late summer when tomatoes are abundant. You can still make it at other times of the year using good quality canned, diced tomatoes, but there is nothing quite like the sweetness of a home-grown, ripe tomato. If you are planning to do some of the preparation with a food processor, I suggest dropping the garlic cloves into the running processor and when they are chopped, stop to add the tomatoes and pulse them to get small chunks of tomato. Resist the urge to set the processor to “on”, as that will give you tomato sauce. If you haven’t tasted a Kalamata olive, you should. Kalamata olives are the ones you also will find in a tasty Greek salad. I don’t recommend trying to substitute with other sliced black olives as they will not have the distinctive taste of the Kalamata which makes this salad so good.
Ingredients
  • 1 pound small pasta such as shells, elbows, bowties, etc.
  • 3 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 24 kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped coarsely
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 12 pepperoncini (pickled peppers)
  • 1/4 pound of feta cheese, crumbled (optional)
Instructions
  1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions and drain, but do not rinse. Combine the tomatoes, garlic, olives, basil, olive oil, and pepperoncini. Toss the pasta with the sauce and marinate for several hours or overnight. You could eat it immediately after preparation, but it will improve from letting the flavors meld and the garlic mellow a bit over time.