Eggplant Gratin

I have to start this post by telling you my real feelings about eggplant. I have quite a few friends that I have mentioned this recipe to who cringe at the thought of serving eggplant to their family. I will have to say… I feel your pain. You see, I will admit that eggplant is not something you will often find in my fridge. Why? Two words… my mother! I will start by declaring my love for her. However, she had a serious obsession with eggplant when I was growing up (I’m actually being modest about it). It was so bad, at one point I remember an eggplant side dish almost at every meal. I remember actually praying that some diligent researcher would find that eggplant causes some serious disease (that would be the only thing that would get it off the menu). I still don’t buy the “it tastes like meat” story she gave us. Nothing tastes like meat…. except meat. Needless to say when I left home, it took me at least 7 years before I could muster up the courage to eat eggplant again. A couple of years ago, we did a 21 day fast at my church, and the hubby and I decided to give up meat. It was cute like for a day or two, until I run out of things to cook. In walked this recipe. In the efforts to try something new, I turned to my old “friend” the eggplant. I made this expecting it to be… barely edible but ended up really enjoying it. It was the first meal that I had eaten where I hadn’t missed my meat. This is now the official way my family and I eat eggplant. I hope that I can at least encourage the skeptics to give it a shot. A word of caution though, this is definitely not a dinner in 30 minutes recipe. It takes a while to prepare the eggplant and pre-bake it, but I think that on a day that you have time, it is well worth the effort.

2 large Eggplant
3 Eggs
3 Tablespoons Milk or Water
1 1/2 Seasoned Breadcrumbs
1 (24 oz/ 3 cups)Jar Pasta Sauce
3/4 cup Mozzarella Cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese
1. Chop the eggplant into 1/2 inch slices (rings). Heavily salt both sides of the slices, and place in a single layer on a tray lined with paper towels or a clean kitchen towel. (The reason you want to do this is to bring out some of the moisture from the eggplant, so it has a crispy texture when baked. It can tend to be a little soggy. You can totally skip this step if you are not picky about the texture.It’s just one of those things that bugs me enough that I take the extra time to do this). Let them sit for about 20 minutes. ( See the beads of water that rise to the top of the slices…. this my friends, is what you want to see).
2. Thoroughly rinse off the slices under running tap water. Pat dry with paper towels or clean kitchen towel.
3. Preheat the oven to 425 Degrees F/220 Degrees C.
4. In one shallow dish, beat together the eggs and the milk/water. In another shallow dish, put the breadcrumbs.
5. Lightly grease or spray two cookie sheets. Dip the eggplant into the egg mixture, then into the breadcrumbs. Coat both sides. Place them on a single layer on the cookie sheets (stacking them would keep them from crisping up). Bake for 20 minutes, turning them once after 10 min.
6. Once eggplant is done, lower the oven temp to 375 Degrees F/190 Degrees.
7. Layer your baking dish (I used a square 8 by 8 inch) with half the eggplant slices. Then spread on half the pasta sauce, and top with 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese. Layer with the remaining eggplant, pasta sauce, then finally with the 1/4 cup mozzarella, and all the Parmesan cheese.
8. Bake for 25 minutes until the top is golden brown and bubbly. Enjoy! (We love ours with a big tossed bowl of salad. A no meat dinner never tasted so good!)
Devotion For The Day:
Keep Knocking
I read a passage in my one year bible today that I just have to share. I was reading from Luke 11:1-13 where Jesus was talking to his disciples about prayer. He starts off showing them how to pray, then told them a story to make his point. Now I’m sure I have read this story many times before, but it really spoke to me today. His story: Suppose you had a visitor arrive at your house late at night, and you had nothing to give them… so you decide to be the wonderful neighbor that knocks on your friend’s door at midnight to borrow three loaves of bread. Your neighbor, thoroughly irritated tells you to go away, but you persist. Verse 8 and 9(NLT) But I tell you this-though he won’t do it for friendship’s sake, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you whatever you need because of your shameless persistence. “And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you”. Jesus then makes the point that if we sinful people know how to give our children what they ask for, how much more our heavenly Father?
I feel like I really needed to read that today. Sometimes it feels like we are nagging God when we ask Him for what is on our heart, but He hears us every time, and actually ENCOURAGES us to keep asking Him, and we will find what we seek. Deep stuff!

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