I love September. It is one of my favorite months of the year. This is one of the first summers that I have not had a garden. Every year, there are several end of the garden dishes that I like to prepare in large quantities and freeze so that we can enjoy them later in the winter. One of those dishes is Eggplant Parmesan. I decided yesterday that even though the eggplants would not be from my own garden, I still wanted to make this dish. Fortunately our small town has a small but very nice Farmer's Market. I found 5 beautiful eggplants for $5.00 and thought that was a bargain!
For many years, I have done a variation of Mollie Katzen's recipe from The Moosewood Cookbook, published by Ten Speed Press. I like the idea of baking the eggplant, rather then frying it. It is much lower in calories, tastes just as good, and is easier and less messy to make. Here are the ingredients:
5 medium eggplants * Note: A neighbor had brought me some beautiful zucchini so I also used a couple of them and pretended like they were eggplants too)! LOL
1 cup of 1/2 & 1/2 (milk will work fine too!)
2-3 cups of cracker crumbs * (I usually just take any type of cracker I have in the house and put them in the food processor until they are the texture of crumbs.)
1/2 cup of wheat germ
1 lb. of mozzarella cheese, grated
3-1/2 ounces of parmesan cheese, freshly grated
15 oz. of ricotta cheese
Approximately 7 cups of marinara sauce( I usually use homemade sauce, but this year I used a good quality sauce in a jar!)
Approximately 1-1/2 T. each of Oregano, Thyme and Basil
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly oil two cookie sheets. Wash and cut the eggplants into 1/2" slices. Place the 1/2 and 1/2 in a shallow bowl. Place the cracker crumbs and the wheat germ together in another bowl, along with the basil and thyme. Take each slice of eggplant and drop it first in the half and half, then in the crumbs. Tap off any excess crumbs. Lay each slice on a cookie sheet. Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until the eggplant is tender.
In a large casserole dish (mine is 12" x 16") ladle some marinara sauce in the bottom. Then put in a layer of eggplant. Cover with more marinara sauce. Top this with 1/3 of the mozzarella cheese and 1/3 of the ricotta. Then, another layer of eggplant, more marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese and ricotta, until you run out of ingredients. I like to end with a layer of marinara. Finally, sprinkle the entire top generously with parmesan cheese and oregano.
Bake uncovered for about 45-60 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and brown. Remove from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes before serving.
I like to refrigerate this overnight, then cut and freeze it into serving sizes . Refrigerating it makes cutting it in servings much simpler.
To freeze after refrigerating, cut in serving sizes, wrap in aluminum foil (or freezer paper), place on cookie sheets and freeze. Then place in freezer bags, label and enjoy for many months to come!
This recipe will make 24 individual or 12 double servings.
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