Last summer we grew eggplant in our garden for the first time, because Gabe was OBSESSED with the movie Ratatouille, and he wanted me to make some real ratatouille for him. It was Eric’s brilliant idea to buy a package of eggplant seeds for him, so he could feel connected to our family garden, and get the payoff of his ratatouille. With Gabe’s autism it is sometimes had for us to to get him involved with family activities.
Well…at the end of the summer, after Gabe had “tended” his plants, I searched Pinterest for a rockin’ ratatouille recipe.
Ratatouille is not a very kid appealing meal.
So…what to do with DOZENS of eggplant?
Find the gooiest, cheesiest eggplant recipe around…
This recipe was originally from Real Simple…but I tweaked er a bit…okay…quite a bit. And it is completely AMAZING!
- 2 large eggplant (16-1/4 inch slices)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3 cups marinara sauce
- 2 cups fresh ricotta (recipe HERE), or 15oz. store bought
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 3 cups freshly grated mozzarella (12 oz.)
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated pepper
- Additional salt and pepper for roasting the eggplant
First, I enlist the help of my cute (and often silly) sous chef.
I like to make my own marinara sauce. You can certainly buy it…but where would the fun be in that?
- 1 Quart (28 oz can) crushed tomatoes
- 1-6oz. jar of tomato paste
- 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
- 3 cloves of garlic (crushed or minced)
- 1 tablespoon high quality olive oil
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds (crushed)
- Sea salt to taste
First, sauté the onions and garlic in one tablespoon of olive oil, over medium-low heat. I like my cast iron skillet for this…but any deep skillet will work.
After about 5 minutes, add the remaining ingredients and stir until well incorporated.
Bring to a low boil, and simmer over low heat for 30-45 minutes…
Now…let’s get down to business.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Wash and dry the eggplant thoroughly, and cut the top off of each eggplant.
Cut the eggplant lengthwise, into 1/4 inch slices.
I use my mandolin for this. If you do not have a mandolin, that’s fine…I sliced my eggplant with a knife the first time I made this recipe. But it will make your life a whole lot easier. We purchased ours at Bed Bath and Beyond (I explain why in this post) for under $30.
Yep..that’s my stud…slicing eggplant like a boss
Discard (preferably compost) the end pieces, as they will not be big enough to use. You will need a total of 16 slices of eggplant.
Brush the front and back of each slice with the olive oil, and place on two separate cookie sheets.
Sprinkle eggplant with salt and pepper.
Roast for about 10 minutes, until the eggplant turns golden, and is soft and pliable.
Reduce oven temp to 375 degrees.
Let eggplant cool, and start the cheese mixture.
Combine ricotta cheese, eggs, 1 cup of mozzarella, 1/4 cup, oregano, basil, salt, and pepper. Stir with a fork until all ingredients are fully incorporated.
Or…your adorable assistant can use her hands (CLEAN hands, of course) to blend it all together.
Spread 1 cup of marinara into the bottom of a 13 x 9 inch baking dish.
Now…start rolling the rollatini…
Place about 2 tablespoons of the cheese mixture at the bottom of each slice of eggplant…
and place on top of the marinara.
Cover the eggplant with the remaining 2 cups of marinara.
Sprinkle with 2 cups of mozzarella and remaining 1/4 cup of parmesan.
Bake, uncovered, for 25-30 minutes…until golden and bubbly.
Perfect for a Sunday dinner.
Have you ever cooked with eggplant? What is your favorite eggplant recipe?