Layered Eggplant

This recipe is a twist on the classic Eggplant Parmesan and uses fresh vegetables and ground meat of your choice. Layered like a lasagna dish, full of flavor. All ingredients can be found at D’Agata’s Fine Family Farm with a little help from Fresh Mozzarella, Parmesan cheese, and breadcrumbs.

You will need:

This recipe makes 12 servings. This dish is delicious served as a leftover as well. Just reduce for fewer servings.

6 small – medium eggplant or 3 large eggplant

4-6 eggs

~5 cups bread crumbs

2 lbs hamburger (or other ground meat of your choice)

plenty of olive oil

Fresh Mozzarella cheese

Parmesan cheese

4-6 sprigs of fresh basil

5 medium tomatoes

1 large onion

2 12oz jars of tomato sauce

9×13 baking dish

Time to cook: ~2.5 hours

Preparing the eggplant:

The eggplant can either be baked or fried. I find that fried eggplant comes out crispier, but is much more time consuming than baking.

To fry:

In a deep frying pan add olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan at least a 1/2 in deep. Turn heat on low and allow oil to heat up. Slice eggplant in thin circles. Take 2 eggs and beat in a shallow dish. In another dish add breadcrumb. Take the slices of eggplant and dip into the eggs coating both sides. Then dunk the coated eggplant in the breadcrumb, flipping the eggplant so it is fully coated with breadcrumb. Lightly place breaded eggplant into pan with oil and allow to fry for 1-2 minutes or until golden brown. Flip and allow the other side to brown. (make sure oil is hot before placing breaded eggplant into the dish). Then remove and place on a plate lined with paper towel. Continue until all the eggplant is fried. Make sure to add egg and breadcrumb to the dishes as needed.

To bake:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2-3 shallow baking pans with aluminum foil. Coat foil with a layer of olive oil. Slice and coat eggplant in eggs and breadcrumb as you would if you were to fry it. Place coated eggplant in baking pan and flip to coat both sides with oil. Fill pan with a single layer of breaded eggplant and olive oil. Allow to bake for 10 minutes and then flip and allow to bake for another 10 minutes. Eggplant should turn golden brown. (Oven can be heated to 400 degrees to decrease baking time) Depending on oven and baking pan size you may have to repeat until all the eggplant is cooked.

Making the filling:

The filling can be cooked before, after, or during the frying/baking of the breaded eggplant. You will need medium frying pan and a large skillet. In the large skilled begin to brown the ground meat of your choice. Ground beef or ground Italian sausage are what I recommend but I have used plain ground pork and ground venison as well. In the medium pan add a layer of olive oil as well as the chopped tomato, onion and basil. Cook on low until ingredients are cooked down and soft. Once the meat is browned add 1 can of tomato sauce and mix. Allow to cook down some more. Drain excess liquid from the tomato, onion and basil and then add to the meat and sauce. Mix together and allow to simmer on low heat until most of the liquid is cooked out.

Layering:

Coat bottom of the 9×13 baking dish with a thin layer of tomato sauce. Then add a layer of the fried eggplant to the dish. On top of that sprinkle some Parmesan cheese and then add a thin layer of the meat filling. Take the fresh mozzarella and layer it on as thick or as thin as you prefer. Add another layer of the fried eggplant and repeat until you have three layer of eggplant and 2 layers of the meat mixture. On the top layer of eggplant sprinkle Parmesan and some more tomato sauce fresh mozzarella on top.

Return the whole dish to the oven at 350 degrees and bake for another 10 minutes. Serve as you would lasagna and enjoy!

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