eggplant parm (with ricotta!) . . .

by mulberryshoots

I love cooked eggplant. It’s great sauteed over high heat with lots of garlic and hot sauce at Chinese restaurants. I like to cook eggplant tempura when I make shrimp tempura with some sweet potatoes too. Tonight, even though it’s still pretty warm outside, I’m cooking the eggplant I bought at the farm stand a couple of days ago.

The eggplant was sliced on the thin side and sprinkled with Maldon salt – left it for about an hour. Then, I rinsed it well under cold water and DRIED it all and let it sit for a couple of hours. When ready to put the dish together, I heated up a skillet with oil and dipped the eggplant slices in egg first, then very lightly dredged in flour mixed with  Lawry’s garlic salt and cracked pepper. Then, I cooked the eggplant slices until it was crisp and cooked on both sides. Drained the oil off of it and finished cooking the rest of the slices. Having blotted all of the oil from the cooked slices, I was ready to put everything together.

There’s a fluted white porcelain oval baking dish that is perfect for this size eggplant parm. The sauce we like is Ragu traditional (might seem boring but it’s not too acidic and the taste is to our liking.) I took a tablespoon and spread a little sauce on the bottom of the casserole. Since all the eggplant was cooked, I did the reverse of what I usually do – which was to save the nice uniform pieces for the top level and used the cut up “ugly” pieces on the bottom layer! Can’t believe I never thought to do that before. I spooned on a scant layer of sauce, then added some dollops of fresh ricotta cheese. There was about a third of a container of ricotta cheese in the fridge and it tasted great – so I was confident it would taste good in the eggplant dish. I used the microplane to grate fresh parmesan cheese over the entire layer. Then repeated the layering steps with lots of parmesan grated onto the top.

The oven was heated to 375 and I cooked it until the eggplant parm was golden brown on the top. It was very tasty – not too much tomato taste, tender eggplant and sweet melted ricotta cheese in between. Yum!