Growing up I had the privilege of enjoying many great family traditions. One of the most important that I remember as a child was sitting down together at dinner as a family. My mom raised me alone for most of my childhood and because of that she had to work long hours to make ends meet. However, no matter how busy her day was, she and I always sat down to a delicious home cooked meal every night. I often wonder how she managed to pull off a wonderful meal every day, but she did and because of that, I wanted to make sure that I passed on that tradition with my own family.
My days are often just as busy as hers used to be, but I still enjoy cooking meals that my family will enjoy. Ragu Pasta Sauce makes it easy with their line of delicious homestyle sauces. Ragu Homestyle sauces are so thick that they literally hug the pasta! These sauces are the boldest yet because they peel, chop and simmer the ingredients and use a special blend of herbs (basil, fennel, oregano and black pepper) to layer and build the flavor. I don’t like taking shortcuts with my cooking and neither does Ragu. There are never any artificial flavors, artificial colors or high fructose corn syrup in any of Ragu’s sauces so I can feel good about serving these to my family.
In the tradition of yummy homestyle meals, I wanted to share my recipe for Saucy Baked Eggplant with Cheese. Eggplant is so versatile and has a wonderful flavor, especially in pasta dishes. It not only tastes delicious but is easy to prepare and healthy too. Even my pickiest eater ate every bite of this and asked for more! This recipe is vegan friendly as well with the use of vegan cheese and gluten free noodles if you wish.
3/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
1 23 oz jar Ragu Homestyle pasta sauce (I used Thick and Hearty Roasted Garlic)
1 medium eggplant, sliced in 1/4 inch slices
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups vegan shredded mozzarella cheese (or regular shredded cheese of your choice)
Gluten free thin spaghetti noodles or pasta of your choice, cooked
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a plastic Ziplock bag, combine the bread crumbs and eggplant slices. Shake to completely coat the eggplant slices. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Place the eggplant slices in the skillet in a single layer. Fry the slices in the skillet until golden brown on each side. Remove and drain on paper towels.
Spread a thin layer of spaghetti sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish. Cover with the eggplant slices, then top with half of the shredded cheese. Spread half the Ragu Homestyle sauce over the cheese. Spread remaining cheese over the top.
Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbling.
Serve over the cooked pasta noodles, along with a salad and/or your favorite bread.