Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a pot. Once hot, add 1 diced onion to pot. Once the onion is translucent, add diced garlic. Again, my husband is Italian, so I added 4 cloves but add what you like.
Mix all together. The tomato paste is going to make you sauce thick, which I like because I like to add wine to my sauce. If you don't want to add wine, add less tomato paste. I add about 1/4 cup wine to my sauce. It gives it a nice bite.
Now come the spices. Add a dash of salt. About a tablespoon of oregano, basil, and parsley. Stir, stir, stir.
Now comes the secret. I add about 1/8 cup fresh Parmesan cheese. The cheese has the right amount or bite and salt that will help bring out amazing flavors.
That's it! You have amazing homemade marinara sauce! The longer you let simmer on low the better the flavors will melt together. For this dish, I let it simmer on low for about 45 min.
Now comes the egg plant. Cut both ends of the eggplant. Your going to cut the eggplant 1/4 inch think. I used a mandolin to get even cuts. You should get 10-12 slices.
Lay all the slices of eggplant out and lightly salt both sides. From here, place in a colander and let sit for 30min-60 mins. The salt will help pull all the moisture out of the eggplant. For me, I was impatient and only let rest for 40 mins and it turned out ok.
While your eggplant is resting, we can make the filling. Mix 1/4 cup panko or bread crumbs, 1/2 cup ricotta cheese, and 1 large lemon zest to a bowl. Then take half the lemon and add juice to the bowl. Mix. Couldn't be easier! The lemon in this really makes the dish. It adds the nicest, refreshing taste to the dish.
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Heat 1 inch of olive oil in skillet. You have to make sure the oil is HOT so wait till it starts to pop or sizzle a little. Take your eggplant, dab with paper towel to remove any excess liquid then add to skillet.
You only need to let cook for 1-2 minutes per side. Once the eggplant gets a little color or starts to soften, remove from oil and lay flat on paper towel to remove excess oil. Repeat till all eggplant is cooked.
Get a baking dish and pour half your sauce into baking dish till fully coded. Take 1 cooked eggplant and lay flat. Take 1 spoonful of filling and place on widest end. Roll. Lay in baking dish with the opening side down.
Repeat till all slices of eggplant are done.
Then you are going to spoon heavy cream over each eggplant. This will help keep the eggplant soft and caramelize.
Place in oven and cook about 20 minutes. The sauce should start bubbling and the eggplant should caramelize a little. I serve over a bed of pasta and with the other half of the sauce remaining in my pot. You can garnish with some fresh Parmesan cheese.
Everyone at my house really enjoyed this and looks relatively impressive.
Bon Appetit! Let me know your thoughts.