This is the Best Eggplant Manicotti Casserole and a smart way to eat your favorite manicotti without all the calories and carbs! Cleverly swap out crepes or pasta noodles for eggplant slices instead. Roasted eggplant slices filled with a simple cheesy filling and rolled into a delicious casserole that resembles manicotti, makes this an outstanding dish! It’s the Best eggplant manicotti casserole out there!
Traditionally, our mom would always serve manicotti as the first course on holidays and Sundays, followed by 5 other dishes as the main course. She would work her fingers to the bone making homemade manicotti from scratch.
Well, I don’t have the time to spend all day in the kitchen – nor do I want to. So I decided to come up with a better solution to making a healthier “manicotti” casserole – the easier way!
Making this manicotti using slices of eggplant instead. This method made me realize how amazingly delicious this dish turned out to be. It was so good, I needed to share this recipe with you.
While I have been preparing our menu for the holiday, the decision was unanimous! Eggplant Manicotti Casserole will be served as the first course. Hands down!
With a little planning in advance, you can make this eggplant manicotti casserole very easily.
How To Make the BEST EGGPLANT MANICOTTI CASSEROLE:
There are a few steps involved to making our best eggplant manicotti casserole.
First, you will need 2 cups of prepared tomato sauce (marinara sauce is best to use), ricotta cheese, fresh basil, grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shredded mozzarella and 2 large eggplants.
Next, slice the eggplants evenly and roast them in the oven until they are tender.
Meanwhile, prepare the cheese mixture for the filling and set it aside. When eggplants slices are ready. Pour some sauce on the bottom of baking dish.
Take one slice of eggplant at a time, place some filling onto the strip of eggplant and roll it up. Place it seam-side down in baking dish. Continue with all of them.
Then spread the remaining sauce on top, and scatter with shredded mozzarella and grated cheese, and bake.
When you combine dreamy creamy ricotta cheese nestled inside the tender eggplants that melts-in- your-mouth with every bite, makes this dish so irresistible, you won’t miss the crepes (or pasta) for sure!
Best of all, these eggplant manicotti turned out so light, you’ll have plenty of room to enjoy the rest of your holiday dinner.
My family said it’s the BEST eggplant manicotti casserole they have ever had! Who are they kidding, … it’s the only one they ever had! Haha…Enjoy!
Try this recipe! Let us know how it turns out.
*You can follow along below or jump down to the bottom of this post for the full recipe card.
Ingredients for Best Eggplant Manicotti Casserole:
2 large eggplants, (about 8 or 9-inches long and 5-inches in diameter)
1 + 1/4 cups of ricotta cheese, (such as Polly O, or Galbani)
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese -divided
1/2 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. dried parsley
2 cups Mom’s Quick Marinara Sauce – divided
3/4 cup shredded whole milk (or reduced fat) mozzarella cheese
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil – divided
1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Using a large, sharp knife, slightly square off the tops and slightly the bottom of each eggplant. Slice the eggplant lengthwise into 8 to 10 slices that are about 1/4-inch thick. Don’t worry if they are not the exact size or thickness. When they bake, no one will notice any difference.
Or use a vegetable slicer or mandoline to quickly slice the eggplant into uniform strips; this will ensure they will cook evenly.
3. NEXT, lay the eggplant slices on the prepared baking sheets. You can overlap them slightly.
Season with some salt and black pepper to taste.
4. BAKE eggplants in oven for about 10 minutes, remove and lightly drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over each baking sheet. Return them back to the oven to continue roasting for another 8 to 10 minutes, until the eggplant is golden and tender. Remove and set aside to cool slightly.
5. REDUCE oven to 350 degrees. While the eggplant is cooling down, prepare the ricotta filling. Combine and blend the ricotta with 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese, fresh basil and dried parsley. Season the mixture with salt and pepper to taste.
6. Spread 1 cup of the marinara sauce on the bottom of an 9 x 6-inch baking dish. Set aside.
7. Lay the roasted eggplant slices on a work surface, two at a time. Spoon about 1 tablespoon (a good dollop) of the ricotta mixture near the bottom of a strip of eggplant. Roll it up.
8. Place each eggplant “manicotti,” seam side down, in the baking dish, side by side and in two rows ( if you can). Place as many as you can into the baking dish. Spoon the remaining marinara sauce over the eggplant evenly. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese on top, then with shredded mozzarella.
9. BAKE (at 350 degrees) for 15 to 18 minutes, until the cheese is heated through, bubbly and golden on top. Remove and set it aside for 2 minutes. Serve immediately.
Serves: 2 Eggplant “Manicotti” per person (yields: 5 to 6 servings)
A Few Cook’s Notes:
This eggplant casserole comes together quick if you have marinara sauce already made.
When slicing the eggplant, don’t worry if they’re not exactly 1/4-inch thick, you may have extra eggplant slices, and that’s Ok.
Some slices may get charred if too thin and cannot be rolled into manicotti, is the reason why I use 2 eggplants.
Make two rows of the “manicotti” in the baking dish, this will make it easier for serving.
Also, you can prepare this casserole the night before (do not bake it), cover with foil wrap and chill over night. Then take it out of the fridge at least 30 minutes, or more (to warm up to room temperature) before baking, then bake it uncovered.
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For More Tasty Eggplant Recipes, try these:
This post contains affilitate links. Recipe adapted from Rocco Dispirito