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Eggplant, Sausage and Ricotta Bake

January 12, 2010

I have all these great recipes to post and I feel like I’m woefully behind!  But I’m going to going make it up by

eggplant, ricotta and sausage bake

posting a lot in the next few days, and luckily the back log will mean I will have stuff to post next week after a cookingless weekend due to travel.   I wasn’t sure what to post first, but after last night, it’s gotta be the Eggplant Sausage Bake I made.  It was amazing.  It’s partially inspired by Bitchin’ Camero’s Eggplant and Sausage Casserole, and partially inspired by the leftover ricotta cheese I had in my fridge.  I combined those two ideas into a lasagna-like casserole (or a sausage and ricotta eggplant Parmesan) with eggplant serving as the noodles, and a layer of spicy chicken sausage and ricotta.  It was fantastic the night of, and even better the next day.  So good, that what I thought would have been 6 servings really fed 4, so next time I’m going to double the recipe.  I served this with a side salad, and it would be great- and even more filling- to serve it with some pasta.  Serves 4.

Ingredients:

1 T olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 28 oz can Italian plum tomatoes

big pinch red pepper flakes

1/4 c fresh basil, sliced

2 lbs eggplant, sliced lengthwise 1/4″ thick

1 1/2 c ricotta cheese

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/2 c grated Parmesan, divided

2 T chopped fresh parsley

3 links chicken or turkey hot Italian sausage, casings removed

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease a 9″ x 9″ glass or ceramic baking dish.

Heat a grill or grill pan over high heat.  Season eggplant slices with salt.  Spray pan with non-stick spray and arrange eggplant slices on pan in a single layer.  Cook on each side until grill marks appear and eggplant is tender, but still holds its shape, about 3-4 minutes for each side.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add garlic and cook, stirring to prevent burning, until garlic has a little color- about 2-3 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and their juices and break up the tomatoes with a spoon.  Simmer for 10 minutes and season with salt and pepper.  Stir in fresh basil and turn off heat.

In a small skillet, brown the sausage filling over medium high heat, breaking it up into small pieces, until cooked through, about 5 minutes.  Set aside.

Mix the ricotta with the egg, 2 T Parmesan, the parsley and salt to taste and set aside.

To assemble the dish: spread a thin layer of the tomato sauce (about 1/4 c) on the bottom of the dish.  Add 1 layer of eggplant slices, then top with 1/3 c of the sauce.  Sprinkle with about 1-2 T of the Parmesan.  Sprinkle all the sausage over the top of the sauce.  Place another layer of eggplant over the top.  Spread all of the ricotta filling over the eggplant.  Top again with another 1/3 c of the sauce and sprinkle with 1-2 T of Parmesan.  Top with remaining eggplant slices and pour the rest of the sauce on top, and sprinkle with remaining cheese.  Bake 25-30 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling around the edges (if cheese starts burning, cover with foil).  Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes on the counter to set up, then serve.

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