How to make Italian sausage and eggplant casserole

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Many vegetables are masquerading as noodles these days. Zucchini, sweet potatoes and carrots are just a few. While these are all excellent options for people looking to go low carb, there's another that's seldom thought of ⁠—eggplant! Okay, so you likely won't be able to put an eggplant in a spiralizer and get stable noodles. However, the recipe below shows just how easy it is to get mock lasagna noodles from this purple plant.
First, you peel and slice the eggplant to look just like lasagna noodles. Then, after frying up some Italian sausage with aromatics, you layer everything with cheese and a roasted red pepper sauce that gives it a unique twist. Not only is this eggplant dish one of the healthiest things you'll eat all week, it's one of the most delicious too!
Cooktop Cove
Italian Sausage and Eggplant Casserole
10 minutes
1 hour, 15 minutes
1 hour, 25 minutes
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 eggplants, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch thick strips
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided
1 pound Italian sausage, removed from casing
1 onion, small dice
3 cups fresh spinach
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 16-ounce jars roasted red peppers, with juices
2 tablespoons dried Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 cup red wine
2 cups ricotta cheese
2 eggs
3 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and grease a 9-by-13-inch casserole dish.
Brush 2 tablespoons of olive oil over eggplant slices and season with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper.
Arrange eggplant slices on a nonstick baking sheet. Place in oven and bake for 5 minutes. Flip and bake for another 5 minutes on the other side.
Remove eggplant from oven and allow to cool slightly.
Reduce heat in oven to 375 degrees.
In a large frying pan heat remaining tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat.
Add Italian sausage to the pan, breaking up the pieces as you do. Cook for about 5 minutes, until it's nearly no longer pink.
Add onion to the Italian sausage in the pan and cook for another 3 minutes until soft.
Add spinach to the pan and cook until just wilted.
Add garlic to the pan and cook for another 30 seconds.
Puree the roasted red peppers and their juices until smooth, in batches if necessary.
Add the pepper puree to the frying pan with the sausage. Add Italian seasoning, red chili flakes and red wine. Bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
Combine the ricotta cheese with the eggs in a small bowl.
Spread 1/3 of the meat sauce into the prepared casserole dish.
Layer half of the eggplant slices in a single layer over the sauce.
Place dollops of the ricotta cheese mixture onto the eggplant and spread it evenly.
Layer half of the mozzarella cheese over the ricotta mixture.
Repeat the layers starting with the meat sauce, then eggplant slices, ricotta and mozzarella cheese.
Add the remaining eggplant slices and cover with remaining sauce.
Sprinkle Parmesan cheese evenly over top of the casserole.
Cover the dish with foil and bake in the preheated oven for one hour.
Remove foil and bake for another 15 minutes, until the cheese on top has melted and is just starting to brown.
Remove casserole from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
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This is a great weeknight meal to make so that when it's baking, you can get other work done.
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