This Italian Ricotta Eggplant Casserole, a creamy delicious oven baked dish. Filled with a perfectly spiced sautéed eggplant and finished with a creamy ricotta topping. Perfect served as a main dish or even as a side dish.
I guess you can’t get more Italian than eggplants and ricotta cheese. This easy, simple Italian Ricotta Eggplant Bake is a perfect summertime comfort food. Because sometimes we do need some summertime comfort.
- Olive oil
- Eggplant – 2 medium
- Tomato – 1 large firm but ripe
- Hot pepper flakes
- Ricotta – if very watery, then drain in sieve for about 20-30 minutes
- Egg – 1 large
- Parmesan Cheese – freshly grated
Why grate your own Parmesan Cheese?
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A couple of reasons it’s better to grate your own. It’s cheaper and it tastes so much better. Packaged cheese tends to have a coating to keep the cheese from sticking together. Not a good thing.
Freshly ground parmesan cheese can be kept in a plastic bag or airtight container and stored in the fridge for up to two weeks. You can also store it in the freezer for up to 18 months.
Is it necessary to place the eggplant under salt?
It depends on the eggplant, if the eggplant is young and tender then some people don’t, although it does help make the dish more tender and less bitter, and personally I can always tell the difference.
I recommend that you do do it no matter how tender the eggplant may be. In a large bowl toss the sliced eggplant with a little salt, let sit for about 20-30 minutes, then drain, never rinse.
How to make it
In a medium bowl toss together the diced eggplant and a little salt, let sit for approximately 20-30 minutes, then drain but do not rinse.
In a large frying pan on medium heat add the olive oil, onion and garlic, cook until transparent approximately 5 minutes, add the drained eggplant and water, cook until soft, approximately 5 minutes.
Add the chopped tomatoes, oregano, salt, basil, thyme & hot pepper flakes if using lower heat. Simmer half covered for approximately 20-30 minutes or until almost all the water has evaporated.
Pre-heat the oven, lightly grease a medium baking dish. In a small bowl mix together ricotta cheese and egg.
Place filling in the baking dish and top with the ricotta cheese topping, sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese. Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until the ricotta cheese is soft and golden.
So needless to say I rarely cook with ricotta. I make the occasional Ricotta and Spinach Stuffed Pasta Shells and a tasty Ricotta and Chocolate Chip Cake recipe that I was lucky enough to get from a friend’s mother. But bake Eggplant and Ricotta as in casserole, nope never, until now.
How to choose the perfect eggplant
It’s best to pick medium to small eggplants they are more tender and contain fewer seeds than the much bigger ones. You are going to find seeds in the eggplant, but no worries you can eat them, just make sure they are white and not black. Black seeds indicate a tougher older vegetable.
You can tell if it’s tender and young by its firmness, size, colour and uniformity. The best ones are tender but firm, with smooth, shiny skin. In good condition the stem should be bright green, as it turns brown it becomes less desirable.
What is Ricotta cheese?
Ricotta cheese is made from leftover whey from other cheeses, it can be from cow, goat, sheep or Italian Buffalo. Sometimes an acidifier is added.
Ricotta meaning recooked is just that, the recooking of the whey. Since it is not produced from curd, but from whey, ricotta cannot be considered a real cheese. The term ricotta can also mean the fresh one.
How to store the Eggplant Casserole
The casserole should be stored in the fridge in an airtight container. It will keep for up to 3-4 days in the fridge. I would not recommend freezing as the vegetables can become quite soggy and watery.
I hope you enjoy this Italian Ricotta Eggplant Casserole and you give it a try. Let me know if you do. Buon Appetito!
More Eggplant recipes
- Italian Breaded Eggplant
- Simple Bucatini and Eggplant
- Italian Eggplant Pie
- Easy Eggplant Parmesan Stacks
Italian Ricotta Eggplant Casserole
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small onion diced
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 2 medium eggplant diced
- 1 large firm but ripe tomato (seeded and diced)
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 4-5 leaves fresh basil chopped
- 1 pinch thyme
- 1-2 pinches hot pepper flakes (optional)
- ¼ cup water
FOR THE TOPPING
- ½ cup ricotta
- 1 large egg
- ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
- In a medium bowl toss together the diced eggplant and 1/2 teaspoon salt let sit for approximately 20 minutes, drain but do not rinse.
FOR THE FILLING
- In a large frying pan on medium heat add the olive oil, onion and garlic, cook until transparent approximately 3-5 minutes, stirring often, watch that it doesn't burn, add the drained eggplant and water cook until soft, approximately 5 minutes.
- Add the chopped tomatoes, oregano, salt, basil, thyme & hot pepper flakes if using. Lower the heat and simmer half covered for approximately 20-30 minutes until almost all the water has evaporated. Pre-heat oven to 350° (180° celsius), lightly grease 2 small baking dishes or 1 medium.
- Pre-heat oven to 350F (180C), lightly grease a medium baking dish.
FOR THE TOPPING
- In a small bowl mix together ricotta cheese and egg.
- Place filling in the baking dish and top with the ricotta cheese topping, sprinkle with the grated Parmesan cheese. Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until ricotta cheese is soft and golden. Enjoy!
Updated from June 30, 2015