Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Homemade Eggplant Lasagna

Eggplant lasagna
I adore eggplant and I have lots of eggplant coming in from my garden right now. I also adore lasagna. I decided that instead of using lasagna noodles to layer a lasagna recipe I would replace the noodle layer with sautéed eggplant slices. I threw this idea together and didn’t measure much or follow any recipe.  It came out so well that I’ve been asked to write it down by friends and family. Please note the recipe and portions below fill two casserole dishes with these amounts. You could cut the amounts in half for just one casserole. The other option is to share or freeze the second casserole dish.

1 lb lean chicken Italian sausage (or turkey Italian sausage) *Be sure to get a high end quality sausage.
1 – 1.5 lbs lean ground beef
2 cans Fire Roasted diced tomatoes (the Fire Roasted flavor makes a big difference)
1 glass jar of high end marinara sauce in a jar (Not Ragu or Prego)
2 medium onions (diced)
2 bell peppers (diced)
Garlic powder
Italian seasonings
Basil (About a 1/4 tsp of dried or use some fresh basil. If you use fresh add it later when you are about to make the layers)
Salt to taste
1/8 th teaspoon red pepper flakes (more if you like it spicy!)
¾ cup red wine
2 round tubs ricotta cheese
1 container Parmesan cheese (about 1.5 cups)
2-4 cups of mozzarella or a mixture of mozzarella and cheddar (basically whatever shredded cheese you have on hand)
6 Fresh Roma tomatoes sliced lengthwise so they are long slices (this layer is optional and I threw it in because all my tomatoes are also coming in from the garden)
5-7 large fat purple eggplants, peeled and sliced into circle shapes
2 eggs

*This step is strictly optional because it takes longer but helps get the moisture out of the eggplants. One hour to 1.5 hours before you are ready to cook - Peel and slice the Eggplant in ¾ inch pieces. If you have a baking cooling rack you can set it up and place paper towels beneath it. Another option is to put the eggplant slices in a large colander above the sink to drain. Lightly salt the eggplant slices on both sides and spread the slices over the baking rack. This helps drain some of the moisture because the eggplant will make your lasagna very juicy. The eggplant may look a little shriveled after this but that is fine.

Pour some olive oil in a pot (about 1 Tbs) and brown meats together along with onions and bell peppers. Drain some of the fat. Add red wine and cook another minute then add marinara and season with garlic salt, red pepper, and Italian seasonings, also dried basil unless you are using fresh, (if using fresh basil add it later)

. Simmer on low heat  while you prepare the other layers.

While this is cooking, in a separate bowl mix together both tubs of ricotta cheese, 2 eggs beaten, the 1.5 cup of parmesan, mozzarella and or cheddar and a little milk if the mixture is too dry. Just remember, even if the lasagna seems dry, a lot of moisture will cook out of the eggplant.

In a large skillet, coat the bottom with a thin layer of olive oil, place one side of the eggplant down in the olive oil to coat one side then flip it over and put the other side in the skillet. Saute' until the eggplant is thoroughly cooked and soft and grey in color, repeat with all the eggplant, replacing the oil with each new batch. Prepare a plate covered with a paper towel  and place the cooked eggplant on the plate as it is done. I used several plates.

In another skillet add some olive oil and lightly sauté the Roma tomato slices with olive oil. Set aside.
Once all of these are cooked and ready, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In your prepared casserole dishes layer each ingredient in the following order:
Eggplant layer
Meat sauce layer
Ricotta layer
Roma tomato layer

Cover the top of the dish with any remaining cheddar or mozzarella.  I baked it for about 50 minutes. I did not cover the dish. If the cheese on top is getting too dark you can use aluminum foil sprayed with Pam on one side to cover the dish. The side with the Pam will face the top of the casserole and will prevent the cheese from sticking to the foil.

This is some of it in a lunch plate for work.

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