Peppery Eggplant Bake

2 medium eggplants
1 red pepper, diced
2 jars spicy red pepper spaghetti sauce
1 container ricotta cheese, (15 ounces)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup mozzarella cheese,
Juice from one lemon
1/4 cup fresh basil and parsley, minced, or 1 1/2 tablespoon of each, dried
fresh ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup parmesan

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Peel one eggplant and cut into 1-inch cubes. Spray a wire rack with nonstick vegetable spray, and place it onto a cookie tray. Put eggplant cubes on rack and bake for 10 minutes. "Stir" eggplant cubes around and bake for 10 more minutes.

In a 9x13-inch pan, put enough sauce on bottom of pan to cover. Put eggplant cubes over sauce, and sprinkle with half of lemon juice, half of diced red pepper, and half of herbs.

Prepare and bake second eggplant the same way as you did with the first one (baking both eggplants at once makes it too crowded on the rack for the eggplant to bake properly, and peeling and cubing the second one too early makes for brown and ugly eggplant cubes!).

While it is baking, mix together the ricotta cheese, garlic and black pepper. Spread over the first batch of eggplant cubes in pan. Spread about 1/2 jar of sauce to cover, and 1/2 of the mozzarella. Repeat with second batch of eggplant cubes, sprinkle with rest of the lemon juice, herbs, diced red pepper, and some black pepper to taste. Sprinkle on rest of mozzarella, and cover with more sauce.

Bake covered for 25 minutes. Sprinkle on parmesan, and bake uncovered for about 10 more minutes. Let set about 10 minutes before serving.

Makes about 8 servings

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