The versatile eggplant inspires a bit of menu magic because it is so compatible with a variety of food tastes, colors and textures. Eggplant Jarlsberg is a special variation on this theme, a zesty one-dish entree that will feed a crowd beautifully.
Vegetables, cheese and a tomato-based sauce are favorite flavor partners, and this combination is distinguished by the mild, nut-like flavor of Jarlsberg cheese. Prepared in one baking dish, a bed of marinara sauce is topped with alternate layers of golden brown eggplant slices, cheese, egg and a spinach mixture.
Advance preparation makes it easy to time the baking of Eggplant Jarlsberg for serving fresh from the oven. It looks good and it tastes terrific.
1 cup fine dry bread crumbs
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1 medium clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon basil leaves, crushed
2 tablespoons milk
2 medium eggplants, sliced
1/3 cup olive oil, about
3 cups ricotta or cottage cheese
3 cups shredded Jarlsberg cheese
2 cups chopped spinach leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups prepared marinara sauce
Combine bread crumbs, Parmesan, parsley, garlic and basil in shallow pie plate. Set aside 1/4 cup mixture.
Combine 2 eggs beaten with milk in another pie plate. Dip eggplant slices into egg mixture, turning to coat both sides. Coat with crumb mixture. Fry in oil in skillet until golden on both sides. Drain on paper towels.
Combine ricotta, 2 cups Jarlsberg, remaining 3 eggs, spinach and salt. Spread 1 cup marinara sauce in bottom of 13x9-inch baking dish. Alternate layers of eggplant, cheese mixture and sauce in pan. Sprinkle with reserved bread crumb mixture. Bake at 350 degrees 40 minutes or until bubbling. Top with remaining Jarlsberg. Bake 5 minutes longer and let stand 5 minutes before serving. Makes 10 to 12 servings.