When we’re in the mood for something warm and hearty, this cheesy eggplant and sausage casserole is one of our favorite meals. It’s perfect for those nights when we have some extra time for meal prep, and while it bubbles and bakes in the oven, we can help with homework or answer a few last minute emails. Preparing the eggplant is the only “extra” step here, in what is otherwise a super easy and delicious casserole.
As much as our family loves lasagna, any time we can top a veggie with meat and cheese, we feel like we’ve accomplished a small veggie victory. This meal may sound familiar to many; it’s a little bit like eggplant parmesan, but with a few tweaks to make it different. Eggplant is hearty and even a bit meaty, so it works well with the Italian sausage, but sometimes we will substitute with ground beef or diced chicken. What makes this dish extra indulgent is the cheese on the top, that bubbles and browns in the oven – I mean, who can resist crisped cheese?! This is a warm and hearty meal that is comfort food at it’s best.
Eggplant Sausage Casserole
1 hour and 10 minutes to prepare serves 8
- 1 1/2 pounds ground Italian sausage
- 1/2 cup yellow onion, finely diced
- 1 eggplant, thinly sliced in long strips
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- 4 cups Italian cheese blend, shredded
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 2 cups Italian breadcrumbs
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- Chopped fresh parsley, garnish
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 9-by-9-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
- Salt eggplant slices, and place in a colander to sweat, about 20 minutes. Using a paper towel, blot any excess moisture from eggplant.
- Set up 2 wide shallow dishes for dredging eggplant, one with eggs and one with bread crumbs. Dip each slice of eggplant into egg mixture, followed by bread crumb mixture. Pan fry eggplant in olive oil, in small batches, and set aside.
- Brown sausage and onion in medium skillet. Drain.
- Add crushed tomatoes to sausage-onion mixture, season with pepper, and simmer until just bubbly.
- Add a thin layer of sauce to bottom of baking dish. Place single layer of eggplant on bottom of pan. Sprinkle 1 cup of cheese over top, then add 1/2 meat mixture, spreading evenly.
- Continue with another layer of eggplant, 1 cup of cheese, and remaining meat mixture.
- Finish off with third layer of eggplant and remaining 2 cups of cheese.
- Bake, covered, for about 35 minutes. Uncover and continue baking five to 10 minutes longer, until casserole is bubbly and cheese begins to brown.
Recipe adapted from Tasty Kitchen