“From the SCCC Kitchen” offers Daily Gazette readers tastes from Schenectady County Community College’s nationally accredited American Culinary Federation culinary arts program. Recipes selected by SCCC instructors can easily be prepared at home. Today, technical specialist David J. Wixted — also project coordinator for the New York State Hospitality Grant — offers a meatless dish, eggplant ravioli.
For many people, roast beef and chicken are off-limits today. Christians are observing Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, and abstinence from meat is a church requirement.
If folks are not in the mood for tuna casserole, David J. Wixted has a tasty alternative, eggplant ravioli.
“This was a bar dish we did during Lent on Fridays,” said Wixted, whose family ran the former B&D Tavern in Mechanicville from 1974 until 1996.
People who visit church for smudges on foreheads this morning may want to devote the afternoon to food prep. “This is a lot of work,” Wixted said. “The eggplant alone will take you about an hour to bread and fry. It’s a lot of piecework.”
The chef prefers people to slice their eggplants lengthwise on home slicing machines. But manual methods are also acceptable. “You can do them with a knife; you just want to keep them uniform,” Wixted said.
Wixted’s recipe also calls for some frying expertise. “You can bake them,” he said of the eggplant, “but I think it’s better fried. To me, you pick up more flavor, and it helps the eggplant because when you roll them, they just seem to roll a little better.”
Color is also important when home chefs have heated frying pans or started deep-fryers. “Golden brown on each side,” he said.
For ricotta cheese mixture:
1 pound ricotta cheese
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons fresh oregano
2 tablespoons fresh parsley
Granulated garlic, to taste
1 large eggplant or 2 medium eggplants
4 ounces flour
5 large eggs
4 ounces milk
16 to 20 ounces flavored bread crumbs
12 ounces olive oil
96 ounces tomato sauce
1 pound grated mozzarella cheese
Make ricotta cheese mixture by mixing ricotta cheese, eggs, oregano, parsley and garlic. Set in refrigerator until ready to use.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel eggplant, slice length-wise into thin slices.
Set up breading station in the following order: flour, combination of whipped egg and milk, bread crumbs. Bread eggplant slices by dipping into flour, egg wash and bread crumbs. Fry breaded eggplant slices in olive oil until golden brown on each side.
Sauce a baking dish for the rolled eggplant, making sure there is plenty of sauce on the bottom of the pan. Take fried eggplant and place a tablespoon of ricotta cheese mixture into the wide end of the eggplant and roll lengthwise. Place eggplant pieces into the sauced baking dish.
Sauce the top of the eggplant and cover with aluminum foil. Bake for about 30 to 45 minutes, until center is heated through.
Remove foil and cover with the shredded mozzarella cheese. Return to the oven uncovered and bake until cheese is golden brown, about 15 minutes. Serve immediately with Italian bread or garlic bread.