Eggplant Lasagna

Who doesn’t love lasagna? Lasagna has always been one of those comfort foods that I know I can whip up pretty quickly with only a handful of ingredients. It’s a dish that combines three of, well, pretty much everyone’s favorite foods: pasta, cheese, and tomatoes. Sure, it might be a bit messy, but I’ve come to love its rustic charm. The other fantastic part is that it is relatively difficult to screw up. Foolproof comfort dish? I’ll take it.

I think that I’ve mentioned a billion times that I LOVE using seasonal ingredients. I think that food just tastes so much better when you use vegetables and fruits at the height of their season. While browsing the vegetable section at my local grocery store the other day, I came across some particularly gorgeous-looking eggplant and added two to my shopping cart. Turns out, so did my friend Caroline at her end of town, and she invited me over for dinner last night to cook with some of the loveliest purple vegetables around.

Hello, Chef Extraordinaire!

I know quite a few people that despise eggplant, but it’s actually quite a versatile ingredient. I’ve used it plenty of times in stir fry, curry (er, well, my mom does, and I claim partial credit for helping chop…still not over my fear of making Indian food!), and, after its been sauteed or grilled, as the perfect topping for a sandwiches or on a pizza. I’ve found that drying it out with a little salt or precooking it is particularly good when making something like eggplant parmesan or lasagna; it makes the eating experience much more pleasant since you avoid the risk of soggy food.

Caroline came across this recipe for lasagna on the Real Simple website. What makes this dish so fantastic is that, instead of using lasagna noodles, it uses eggplant, eliminating the carbs and adding in an extra serving of vegetables. It was quick and easy to make, and you can prep some parts while others cook. We even decided to make our own sauce using canned tomatoes, which made the whole recipe relatively inexpensive. Served with a side salad of spinach tossed with a balsamic vinaigrette, and it was the perfect meal in under 45 minutes. Winning? I think yes. Take that Charlie Sheen!

So enjoy this scrumptious recipe for a quick, healthy dinner. It’s a delicious way to get in some phytonutrients and to eat some (naturally) purple food. Happy eating!

Eggplant Lasagna
Recipe adapted from Real Simple

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Nonstick cooking spray (or a little extra olive oil)
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1-28 ounce can of diced tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup of fresh basil, torn
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1¼ tablespoon dried oregano
  • 3 pounds of eggplant, sliced lengthwise in ¼ inch thick slices
  • 1 cup ricotta (we used skim)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • ¼ to ½ cup grated Parmesan

Directions:

  • Heat your broiler. Lightly coat two baking sheets lined with aluminum foil with some cooking spray (or olive oil if you prefer to use that). Spread out your eggplant and lightly spray with more oil. Season with a little salt and pepper. When the broiler is hot, broil them until charred and tender – about 5 minutes per side.
  • In the meantime, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a large pot over medium heat. Add in your shallots and a good dash of salt and pepper. Allow to cook until the shallots have softened a little and are fragrant – about two minutes.
  • Add in your canned tomatoes and cook for ten to fifteen minutes or until the tomatoes have cooked down a bit. Towards the end of this time, add in your fresh basil, dried parsley, and dried oregano. Allow to cook for two more minutes, then take off the heat.

  • While your sauce is cooking, mix together your ricotta, egg, and basil. Set aside.

  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • When your sauce and eggplant are ready, spread half of the sauce on the bottom of an 8×8 baking dish. Layer 1/3 of your broiled eggplant on top of the sauce, then spread half of your cheese mixture on top of the eggplant. Top with another 1/3 of the eggplant, followed by the remaining cheese mixture. Finally, layer the remaining eggplant and top with the second half of the sauce. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese.

Sauce .... Eggplant .... Cheese .... Repeat ....

.... Until it looks like this

  • Bake uncovered for 20 minutes until the dish is bubbly. Then, broil for about one minute so that the Parmesan is nice and bubbly on top.

  • Allow to cool for ten minutes and serve warm with a hearty side salad and fresh bread.

Serves 4.

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