Celebrity Chef: Baked Eggplant


3 Small to Medium Italian Eggplants
1 Egg
Dribble of Milk
Bread Crumbs (Preferably Italian Seasoned)
16 ounces Marinara Sauce
15 Ounces Ricotta Cheese
Enough Freshly Grated Parmesan to cover
Approximately 1/2 to 3/4 cup basil
Grated Mozzarella cheese to cover lightly

optional: spaghetti noodles to serve it over

Preparation Instructions:

1.) First peal the eggplant then slice it into rounds. The thickness is up to you, depending on what you want. If you slice them 1/2 inch thick, they will be crunchy outside and medium-done on the inside.

2.) Sprinkle each side of the round with salt. Next you are going to want to press the eggplant (To remove the natural juices which taste bitter.) I do this by setting a cutting board inside a cookie pan (the pan is to catch the juice. Arrange the Eggplant rounds into equal stacks. I then get out my largest pot half filled with water and set it on top of the eggplant rounds. Leave the eggplant sweating for 45 minutes.

3.) Take the weight off the Eggplant Rounds, and carefully rinse each piece under running water to wash the salt off then pat dry. Preheat the oven at 350 degrees marinara evenly over that. Place the Basil Leaves

4.) Spray a dry cookie sheet with a light coating of vegetable oil. In a shallow, flat bottomed bowel mix the egg and a small dribble of milk. Spread the breadcrumbs on a plate. Dip each eggplant round on both sides in the egg until coated. Then place both sides of the eggplant in the breadcrumbs until coated. Place the eggplant rounds on a cookie sheet and bake them on the middle rack of the oven at 350 degrees for 10 to 20 minutes until turning soft and golden brown.

5.) Using a 9x13 glass, Pyrex or insulated baking pan, spread the Ricotta Cheese evenly across the bottom, spread the basil leaves evenly over the Marinara sauce. Next spread a layer of eggplant over the top of the Marinara/Ricotta Layers. Sprinkle the Parmesan over the first layer of eggplant, enough to cover. Place the remaining eggplant in a layer and spread a coat of grated Mozzarella cheese over the top. Bake until the cheese starts to turn gold and it is starting to bubble in the center (usually at least a half an hour)

6.) Serve it plain or you can serve it over spaghetti to make it more filling.

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