Italian sausage with fried eggplant, fresh mozzarella cheese, basil pesto and marinara
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• 1-2 small to medium eggplant, peeled and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch thick slices (see hints below)
• Approx. 2 tsp salt for salting sliced eggplant
• 6-8 links Italian sausage (hot or mild)
• Approx. 1/2 cup all purpose flour
• 1-2 large eggs, beaten
• Approx. 3/4-1 cup dried breadcrumbs
• Olive oil as needed for sauteing eggplant
• Approx. 1/3 cup basil pesto
• 8-12 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
• Marinara sauce as needed (approx. 1 1/2 - 2 cups)
1. To help remove some of the water from the sliced eggplant, toss the 1/2-inch thick slices with 2-3 tsp salt and let them drain for about 1/2 hour before cooking.
(Try to stand the eggplant up on edge in a colander so the water can drain out of it easier.)
2. After about 15 minutes, get the Italian sausage going in a large pan on the stovetop.
3. Turn the heat off on the pan and take the sausages out when they're done and then use paper towels to pat the eggplant slices dry and then dredge them first in a little all-purpose flour, then in some beaten egg and then in the dried breadcrumbs.
4. Add a little more oil to the pan and saute the eggplant in batches, on medium to medium high heat, until it's golden brown on both sides and cooked through. Add more oil as needed as you flip and cook the eggplant.
5. Once you're done sauteing the eggplant, lay them out on a baking tray and top each slice with a dollop of basil pesto and a thin slice or two of fresh mozzarella cheese and pop the tray underneath the broiler to melt the cheese.
6. Once the eggplant is underneath the broiler, heat the marinara sauce in the pan, slice the sausages on a long bias and add those to sauce to warm through as well.
7. Serve the sausage and marinara with eggplant alongside.
HINTS: Count on 3-4 slices of eggplant per serving. 8 ounces of fresh mozzarella should be enough for 12 slices of eggplant, you'll need more for more eggplant.