Eggplant Ricotta Bake Everything from the 99cent Only Store!

This recipe starts with a home made marinara sauce made with fresh plum tomatoes as a base for the sauce. I found beautiful plum tomatoes 3lbs. for $1.99 at the 99Cent Only Store.


Fresh Marinara Sauce

3 lbs. fresh tomatoes, I used Plum tomatoes, you can use your favorite tomatoes

1 medium yellow onion finely diced

1/2 red onion finely diced

4 cloves of garlic, finely minced

1/2 cup fresh basil leaves

1/2 cup fresh oregano leaves

1 sprig of rosemary

2 Tablespoons of organic tomato paste

Dash of fish sauce and soy sauce

white or black pepper

1 cup shredded Italian Cheese, I used a mixture of Parmesan, Romano, Asiagio, & Provolone

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

You may substitute 2 large cans (28 oz) of whole San Marzano tomatoes for the fresh tomatoes

Peel the tomatoes, I like to use the boiling water method to help make it easier to peel the tomatoes. First use your knife to cut an "X" into the bottom of the tomatoe, scoring the skin and remove the stem from the tomato using a paring knife. Bring enough water to a boil in a saucepan large enough to cover the tomatoes. Once the water comes to a rolling boil, add the tomatoes and cook just until you see the skin separate from the flesh of the tomato. It should take about 1 minute. Remove the tomatoes from the boiling water and immediately quench them in an ice bath. The temperature change will further separate the skins from the flesh. Once the tomatoes are cool enough to handle cut them in half cross ways, not length ways, and remove the seeds. If you cut them lengthwise you will remove much more flesh when you remove the seeds. Try to retain as much tomato juice as possible. You can then hand crush the tomatoes. If using canned whole tomatoes repeat this same process, removing the seeds and hand crushing the tomatoes retaining the juice.

In a large saucepan, add 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and heat over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the garlic and cook until fragrant, do not let the garlic brown or burn. Then add the onions and add salt and pepper. Cook the onions until translucent. Then add the tomatoes and strain the seeds from the tomato juice and cook the tomatoes until the juice is mostly absorbed. Add the fresh oregano, rosemary sprig and hand tear the basil leaves into the sauce. Cook for 10 minutes then remove the rosemary sprig and add the tomato paste. Use your immersion blender to blend the sauce into smooth sauce, feel free to leave some chunks of tomatoes in your sauce. Reduce the heat and let the sauce reduce and intensify in flavor this should take no longer than 20 minutes.

Sauce before it is blended
your sauce will be more of an orange color rather than a deep red color. Add salt and pepper to taste. This fresh sauce beats any store bought sauce you can find!

Preparing the Eggplant

I used Japanese eggplant and I did not peel it. Feel free to use whatever type of eggplant you like, you'll be treating it the same. Trim the top and bottom from the eggplant and slice the eggplant into 1/4 inch slices, since I used Japanese eggplant, I sliced them lengthwise if you're using a regular eggplant you can cut it horizontally if you like or lengthwise. We're going to be using eggplant as a substitute for lasagne noodles.

lightly salt the eggplant and let them sit on a raised rack. I used smoked salt for some added flavor. Let the eggplant sit for 15-20 minutes, the salt will draw out the water and any bitterness in the eggplant. You'll see water droplets form on the surface of the eggplant. Wipe off the water from the eggplant with a paper town and then brush or spray the eggplant on both sides with extra virgin olive oil. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and roast the eggplant for 25 minutes. Don't worry if it's not quite cooked all the way through as we're going to be baking it again with sauce and cheese.

Add 3 eggs to one pint of fresh ricotta cheese along with salt and pepper. I also added some the pistachio pesto I had on hand.

Add a dash of hot sauce for added flavor

Pistachio pesto adds a dimension to the ricotta. You can use regular pesto or add some fresh oregano and basil

Wisk the mixture together until smooth

cover the bottom of a small glass dish with some of the marinara sauce

add a layer of roasted eggplant to the sauce

cover the eggplant with the ricotta mixture, then add a layer of cheese

Add more sauce then another layer of eggplant, ricotta, cheese and sauce then top with an additional layer of cheese and top with grated mozarella cheese.

Bake in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes

Remove it from the oven and let it cool for 10 minutes. It should be golden brown and delicious. Enjoy with a mixed green salad and garlic bread.


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