- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Today’s quick dinner is fun and surprisingly good — and you have permission to use a commercially prepared tomato sauce of your own choosing.

Unlike the traditional version of eggplant Parmesan, which has the eggplant battered and fried, and then baked in a casserole like lasagna, this quick, clean version is made in the broiler in just a few quick steps. It’s fun to prepare and really good.

Be sure to use a good commercial tomato sauce (or your own favorite homemade) and high-quality Parmesan cheese, freshly grated, if possible.

This will keep for only about 2 days if covered tightly and refrigerated, but it’s best eaten right after it’s made.

Quick-broiled eggplant Parmesan

Extra-virgin olive oil as needed

2 small Japanese, Chinese or baby Italian eggplant (about 6 ounces each)

Salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

6 tablespoons good-quality tomato sauce

6 tablespoons part-skim ricotta cheese

6 tablespoons shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

1½ tablespoons Parmesan

3 tablespoons minced fresh basil (optional)

Preheat the boiler to 500 degrees and move the oven rack to the highest position. Lightly brush a baking tray with olive oil.

Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise, and place each half-cut side up on the prepared baking tray.

Lightly brush the cut surface of each eggplant half with olive oil, then broil until the top is golden and fork-tender (about 5 to 6 minutes). Turn the eggplant halves over and broil on the second side until very soft, another 5 to 6 minutes or so.

Remove the eggplant from the broiler and lower the oven rack to the second highest position.

Turn the eggplant back to its cut-side-up position, and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Spread each half of the eggplant with 1½ tablespoons tomato sauce, then spoon 1½ tablespoons ricotta over each half in an even layer. Sprinkle each half with 1½ tablespoons mozzarella and ½ tablespoon Parmesan.

Return to the broiler and cook until the cheeses are melted and have formed a lovely golden brown crust, about 5 to 7 minutes. Serve immediately, topped with a sprinkling of minced basil, if desired. Makes 2 servings.

Mollie Katzen is the author of “Moosewood Cookbook” (Ten Speed Press). To contact her, go to www.molliekatzen.com.

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