Thursday, September 7, 2006

Eggplant Parmesan With Kalyn's Incredible Marinara Sauce

The photo for this dish is rather unappealing to me, but the dish itself was so darn tasty and the sauce so incredibly good that I've thrown caution to the wind and will show it to you anyway.

Promising our group of Beach Night revelers that I would make something to "warm the tummy" and, as usual, starting to cook late in the day, I stole ingredients from what were meant to become eggplant timbales (which I'll just have to make and post another time) and came up with what I guess you could call eggplant parmesan. A ricotta cheese filling between layers of roasted eggplant slices and Kalyn's incredible Sausage and Basil Marinara Sauce, topped with cheese, baked for an hour in the oven, and it was done and ready to pack to the beach.

If you haven't made Kalyn's sauce yet, you really owe it to yourself to do so. I made a full recipe a few days ago and ended up with 7 containers to freeze for the winter. And I'm not done - this weekend I'm going to make another batch before the tomatoes in our local Co-op are all gone. This sauce is thick and rich and herb-y and tomato-y. Just think of all that good lycopene you'll be getting to carry you through the cold winter and on into next summer while waiting for the tomatoes to ripen!

The season is changing rapidly here; the days are shorter and the nights cooler, so a hot dish just from the oven hit the spot for our rather cool gathering on the beach.

Eggplant Parmesan a la Beach Night
Ingredients:4 medium globe eggplants
2 cups ricotta cheese
2 eggs
3/4 cup grated parmesan
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
2 teaspoons dried basil, crumbled
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 cups marinara sauce (I used Kalyn's Sausage and Basil Sauce)
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup grated asiago cheese
olive oil for the pan

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Cut the stem end and base end off of each eggplant. Slice the eggplants lengthwise into 1/4-inch thick slices and place on an oiled cookie sheet.
Roast in the oven for 12-15 minutes, turning the slices over halfway through the cooking time.
Remove from oven and set aside.
Set the oven to 350.
In a bowl, beat the eggs lightly then add the ricotta, 3/4 cup parmesan, pine nuts, basil, nutmeg, salt and black pepper, mixing thoroughly.
Place a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of an oblong 9x12" glass baking dish.
Place a layer of eggplant slices on top of the sauce, fitting the slices snugly.
Spoon 1/2 of the ricotta mixture over the eggplant, spreading it out with the back of the spoon.
Put 1/3 of the sauce over the ricotta mixture and top with another layer of eggplant.
Put the rest of the ricotta mixture over the eggplant and another 1/3 of the sauce.
Place the last of the eggplant slices on top followed by the last of the sauce.
Sprinkle the 1/2 cups of parmesan and asiago cheeses over the very top, cover with foil and bake in the oven for 45 minutes.
Remove the foil and bake another 15 minutes to give the cheese a browned, chewy texture.
Remove from the oven and let rest for another 15 minutes.

To pack this up for the beach, I put a large sheet of heavy duty foil on the counter and set the baking dish in the center. Bring up the sides of the foil to enclose the dish. Top with another piece of foil if necessary. Place in a cardboard box that has hand holes in the sides for easy carrying.

Good night!