Eggplant Parmesan with a Roasted Red Pepper Marinara

Eggplant is a wonderful vegetable that is most often thought of as being bitter.  It is very simple to make and has wonderful flavor especially paired with the roasted red pepper sauce. However, your favorite marinara will work just fine. Round out the meal with a salad and warm Italian bread.

Ingredients

Sauce
1 – 7 oz. jar of any brand of roast red peppers drained
1 cup of canned peeled crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
Eggplant
1 long medium sized eggplant about 1 1/2 – 2 pounds (You will be cutting this lengthwise, so look for one that is not a pear shape but more like a large zucchini.)
3 eggs beaten
2 cups of Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
1 cup of olive oil possibly more depending on the eggplant size chosen
1 – 15 oz. container of light ricotta cheese
2 cups of low moisture mozzarella
Non-stick cooking spray

Technique

Combine drained roasted red peppers, crushed tomatoes and Kosher salt in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a large pot and simmer over low heat. While sauce is simmering, cut eggplant into thin long slices. You can use a mandolin or a knife but cut slowly. If using a knife, make a stable base by cutting a small part of the bottom off. Using two separate large shallow dishes place beaten eggs in one and bread crumbs in the other. Place eggplant slices in the shallow dish with beaten egg, sprinkle with a little kosher salt and mix until evenly coated. Transfer coated eggplant to the other shallow dish of seasoned bread crumbs. Coat both sides of eggplant with breadcrumbs. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat and transfer eggplant to the skillet. Don’t overcrowd the skillet otherwise it will prevent the eggplant from properly browning. Turn when the bottom has become golden brown and crispy and repeat on the second side. Once both sides are golden brown remove and set onto a paper towel to remove any excess oil. Continue with the remaining eggplant. Coat an 8″ x 10″ rectangular baking dish with a non-stick spray. Take 3 to 4 eggplant pieces and layer the bottom of baking dish. Evenly spread half of the container of ricotta cheese over the eggplant. Then add a couple ladles of the roasted red pepper marinara. Less is more when making eggplant parmesan, because the taste of the eggplant should not be overpowered by the sauce, but complement it. Then add another layer of sliced eggplant, the remainder of ricotta cheese, more sauce and then add the final pieces of eggplant. More sauce, but still holding to the less is more theory. Top with the mozzarella cheese. Cover and bake for 20 minutes at 375 degrees in a preheated oven. Then uncover and bake on lower rack for an additional 10 minutes or until cheese is browning and bubbling. Remove and let rest to prevent a “soupy” consistency. Cut into squares. Garnish with Romano cheese if desired.

Suggested Beverage

TryAllegrini Palazzo Della Torre Veronese (Italy),  Masi Modello Delle Venezie (Italy) or Farnese Sangiovese (Italy).

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