Layered Eggplant Puttanesca
— A Healthy Alternative to Eggplant Parmesan and Moussaka
I love Eggplant Parmesan and Moussaka. These great dishes of layered eggplant, cheese and sauces are always so delicious. On the other hand, they’re typically not very healthy. Years ago, I came up with this recipe as my take on the flavors of these classics, but with a healthier spin.
I have served my Eggplant Stacks to many guests: vegetarian and meat eater alike. They all love it. This is a great recipe for entertaining as everything can be prepped well in advance and easily plated up for great presentation. Try it with with a small Caesar salad (watch for my recipe coming soon) and a small amount of pasta, quinoa or crusty bread.
- 2 eggplant
- olive oil
- ½ cup ricotta
- ½ cup grated Parmesan
- ¼ cup grated Mozzarella
- ½ chopped onion
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
- ½ can of water
- ¼ cup chopped Kalamata olives
- 2 tablespoons drained capers
- 5 basil leaves, chopped
- 1 bag baby spinach
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ jar roasted peppers, coarsely chopped (you can also roast your own)
- Parmesan and Mozzarella for topping
- Preheat oven to 400° degrees.
- Slice the eggplants into 10 slices about 1/2 inch thick, lengthwise. Dice up the end pieces, save for the sauce. Lay the eggplant slices in a colander and sprinkle both sides with salt. Let sit for one hour. This pulls moisture and bitterness from the eggplant. Rinse after 1 hour and pat dry with a clean towel.
- Lay out the eggplant slices on a baking sheet and lightly brush both sides of each slice with olive oil. Bake for 25 minutes until there is some color on the bottom side of each slice. Remove from oven and set aside.
- In a bowl mix ricotta, cheeses and pepper (1/4 teaspoon); set aside.
- While eggplants are roasting start sauce: In a pan over medium heat, sauté onion and minced eggplant with one-tablespoon olive oil. It should take about 10 minutes for the eggplant to get softened. Add garlic and sauté briefly without burning. Add in tomatoes and water. Stir and break up any big bits of tomato. Bring mixture to a boil and reduce heat to simmer and let mixture reduce and thicken. Remove half of the sauce and purée in a blender, return to the sauce. Once mixture is thickened, add in basil, capers and chopped olives. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour into a bowl and set aside.
- In the same pan where sauce was made, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté till just turning golden, 1-2 minutes. Add in spinach and toss around until just wilted. Remove from pan and chop.
- Lightly oil the bottom of a baking dish. Divide the cheese mixture among four of the eggplant slices and smooth out to cover each slice. Divide spinach and peppers among all four slices evenly (I found it was easiest to do these steps on a cutting board and then at this point lift and place into the prepared baking dish). Spoon one or two spoonfuls of tomato sauce over each slice, and then top with remaining eggplant slices. Pour remaining sauce over top and sprinkle with desired amount of left over cheese.
- Cover with lid or foil and bake for 30 minutes until heated through and bubbly. Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 -10 minutes to firm up.
- Serve with pasta or nice crusty bread!
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