This hearty eggplant casserole can easily serve as a filling meatless entree, and I often do just that.
The combination of eggplant, tomato sauce, and melted cheese is wonderful. And the leftovers are excellent too!
I love eggplant. Much like portobello mushrooms, it's wonderfully flavorful, almost "meaty." 🍆 That's why I have quite a few eggplant recipes on this blog. But this is definitely one of the best.
If you like eggplant, I think you will love this cheesy eggplant casserole. The combination of deeply flavorful, roasted eggplant slices, tangy tomato sauce, and melted mozzarella combine to create a delicious, pizza-like experience.
You'll only need a few simple ingredients to make this tasty casserole. The exact measurements are listed in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of what you'll need:
Eggplant: Look for a large, firm eggplant with smooth skin. I don't peel the eggplant, but you can peel it if you want.
Kosher salt and black pepper: If using fine salt, you might want to reduce the amount you use, or the casserole could end up too salty.
Garlic powder: Make sure it's fresh! A stale spice can easily ruin a dish. You can also use fresh minced garlic instead of garlic powder.
Marinara sauce: Try to find a no-sugar-added brand. I like Rao's.
Shredded Mozzarella: A good alternative to mozzarella is provolone.
Grated parmesan: Shredded parmesan works too in this recipe.
Making this eggplant casserole is easy! Scroll down to the recipe card for detailed instructions. Here are the basic steps:
You start by slicing the eggplant and roasting the slices in a hot oven.
Next, you layer the eggplant slices, the marinara sauce, and the mozzarella in a baking dish.
Bake the casserole until golden and bubbly, about 15 minutes in a 425°F oven.
Leftovers are really good, so it's not a bad idea to double the recipe. If you wish to double it, simply bake it in a 2-quart baking dish.
Frequently asked questions
You could, but I think it's unnecessary. The peel is beautiful. While some worry that the peel will have a bitter taste, I find that high-heat roasting as we do here takes care of that.
Sure, but salt the eggplant slices first to draw out excess water, and prepare to use a lot of oil - eggplant really soaks up oil.
Yes. Japanese eggplants are small and elongated. You'll need several of them to equal one large eggplant. But they can definitely work in this recipe.
Variations and substitutions
I love this recipe as is and almost always make it as written. But in case you'd like to vary the basic recipe, here are a few ideas for you:
- If you'd like this recipe to contain meat, you can brown a pound of gound beef seperatley, then layer it with the eggplant layers.
- Use provolone instead of mozzarella.
- Add a handful of baby spinach leaves to each of the eggplant layers. Not too much, as they tend to release water into the casserole.
This casserole can make an excellent side dish. But it is so filling and substantial, that I often serve it as a meatless entree, in which case I divide the casserole into two servings instead of four, and serve it with an arugula salad or with steamed broccoli.
Leftovers keep great for 3-4 days in the fridge, in an airtight container. You can gently reheat them in the microwave, or simply eat them cold.
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Cheesy Eggplant Casserole
- Avocado oil spray for pan
- 1 large eggplant (1 ¼ lb), unpeeled
- ¼ teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ cup marinara sauce
- 1 cup shredded part-skim Mozzarella, divided (4 oz)
- 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
- Preheat your oven to 500 degrees F. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Spray the parchment with avocado oil spray.
- Slice the eggplant into ¼-inch thick slices. Arrange the slices on the prepared baking sheet. Spray with avocado oil. Season with kosher salt, black pepper and garlic powder. Roast 15 minutes.
- Remove the baking sheet from the oven. Turn the eggplant slices to the other side. Spray again with oil. Return to the oven and roast until browned and tender, 10-15 more minutes.
- Remove the baking sheet from the oven. Reduce the oven temperature to 425 degrees F.
- Arrange half of the roasted eggplant slices in the bottom of a greased 1-quart casserole dish. Spread half the marinara sauce on top and sprinkle with half of the mozzarella, as shown in the video.
- Arrange the remaining eggplant slices on top. Spread the remaining marinara sauce on top. Sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella and with the Parmesan.
- Bake the eggplant casserole until golden and bubbly, about 15 minutes. Allow to cool 10 minutes before serving.