Eggplant Strata with Basil and Marinara

This is soo good and my family adores it.  When dinner menus are discussed, it is often that I am asked to make the “eggplant thingy”.  I just had Dinner Club and my friend and her husband were going vegetarian for a few weeks as a personal challenge.  I thought that seemed like a good idea and when I got home, I dared my husband to go for two weeks without eating meat.  I found that it was really hard for me.  He did really good, but I failed miserably since my favorite lunch is the taco truck I go to near work.  In the end, we did okay.  We ate stir fry for a week and a few salads and the rustic pie.  I told my “vegetarian-for-a-few-weeks-girlfriend” that I had a great recipe for her.  Poor thing.  I bet she’s tired of stir fry.  Try this!

Ingredients

16 oz. of Marinara Sauce – Pick your favorite.

1 medium size eggplant, sliced into thin rounds about 1/4 inch thick

oil for frying

2 C. grated mozzarella cheese

2 cloves of garlic. slivered

4 ripe roma tomatoes, thinly sliced into rounds

1 large handful of fresh basil, torn or chiffonade

salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

If you are using a deep fryer, prepare the fryer now to 325 degrees.  If you are using oil on the stovetop, start heating your oil until 325 degrees or until you drop a piece of eggplant in and it bubbles.

When your oil is ready, add the slices of eggplant to the oil to begin frying.  You may need to do this in a few batches.  When they are golden brown, remove from the oil and lay on a paper towel lined tray.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Continue these steps until your eggplant slices are done cooking.  Turn off heat and let oil cool before handling.

Layering your strata:  Take an oven safe casserole dish or bakeware and place 3 T of the marinara sauce on the bottom of your dish and spread evenly.  Layer the cooked eggplant slices on top of the marinara.  Use enough eggplant to make one layer.  Then add a thin layer of marinara.  Add the garlic slices.  Add a layer of mozzarella cheese.  Add thinly sliced tomatoes.  Add another layer of marinara. Add the remaining eggplant slices.  Add the last layer of marinara, distribute basil over the top and add the final layer with mozzarella cheese.

Bake strata for 35 minutes or until cheese on top is golden brown.  Remove from oven and let sit to cool for 20 minutes before serving.  This dish is very hot coming out of the oven so please use caution.

Enjoy!

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