Try this recipe when eggplant and basil are in season. We’ve found Eggplant Parmesan can often be heavy and watery. We’ve tweaked the standard recipe by baking the eggplant first and doing away with the breading. We added Italian pork sausage to the sauce which we really like, but can be eliminate if desired. The casserole get a huge boost from the Beaujolais blend, fresh basil and minced garlic. The results are a zesty, garlicky and very satisfying entrée.
- ½ to ¾ pound bulk, lean hot Italian pork sausage. or substitute Italian chicken sausage
- 2 medium large eggplants, pealed, sliced ¼ inch thick
- 8 large white mushrooms, about 1 ½ cup sliced)
- 1 24 ounce can organic tomato sauce
- 1 3 ounce can organic tomato paste
- 3 cups fresh organic basil, chopped
- 3 teaspoons Beaujolais blend or dried oregano
- 6 large cloves organic garlic, minced or pressed
- ¼ teaspoon salt, plus extra for sprinkling on eggplant
- ¼+ cup virgin olive oil
- 1 pound thin sliced mozzarella cheese
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat over to 425 degrees for eggplant, then turn down to 350 to bake the main dish.
Oil a cookie sheet and put sliced eggplant on it. Sprinkle with salt. Put aside for about 15 minutes to allow the salt to draw out excess moisture. After time, dab the sliced eggplant with a paper towel. Brush the egg plant with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with Beaujolais blend or oregano. Bake until the eggplant is tender and remove from oven.
While eggplant marinates and bakes make sauce. Cook sausage until pink is gone in heavy pan. Drain excess oil as it cooks. Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, sliced mushrooms, the rest of Beaujolais blend/oregano, and ¼ teaspoon salt to a large sauce pot. Bring to a slow boil and cook for 10 minutes until mushrooms are softened. Add sausage and stir.
Oil a large, shallow oblong baking dish (9×13). Add about 1 cup of the heated sauce. Place a layer of eggplant, side by side. Scatter a layer of mozzarella cheese. Top with meat sauce, and 1 cup of chopped basil. Repeat layers, finishing with a layer of sauce.
Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees until about 20 minutes. Remove from oven, distribute the minced garlic over the top, lightly stir a bit, then add Parmesan cheese. Return to oven for about 5-7 minutes more until cheese is melted. The fresh basil and garlic are best if the baking is minimized.
Makes 6-8 generous serving depending upon size of of each slice.