Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Eggplant Lasagna

An easy and scrumptious dish to satisfy your lasagna craving when you don't want to put in the time and work, or calories!, of regular lasagna.
It's easy to play with this to suit your tastes. For instance, you could use ground turkey or chicken, or no meat at all and add sliced raw mushrooms to saute with the onions, celery and carrot.

I like to add a pinch of sugar to help offset the acidity of the tomatoes. If you don't want to use white sugar, I'm sure a bit of honey or aguava, or adding another carrot, would work.

Before you get started, you'll want to sweat your eggplant. Slice it into 1/3"-1/2" thick slices and place on a cookie sheet covered in a couple layers of paper towels or a kitchen towel. Sprinkle with a couple teaspoons kosher salt and let sit for about 15 minutes. Pat dry with towel, turn over and salt the other side and let sit 15 minutes.

Now on to the recipe!
  • 1 large, or two small eggplants, enough for 16 slices, 1/3-1/2" thick and sweated, extra salt dusted off and sweat patted dry
  • 1 1/2 lb. ground beef
  • 1 small carrot, cut in half lengthwise and sliced thin
  • 1 rib celery, sliced thin, tops too if desired
  • 1/2 large white onion, diced
  • 3 fat cloves garlic, grated with zester
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • dash oregano
  • 8 cups, or 2 quarts, or two (32 ounce) cans of crushed tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons each of dried marjoram, oregano, basil
  • 1 fat clove of garlic, grated
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 small zucchini, cut lengthwise, then thinly into half moons
  • 1 small yellow zucchini/yellow squash, cut lengthwise, then into thin half moons
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh grated Asiago cheese
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh grated parmesan cheese
    Salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 ounces fresh grated mozzarella cheese
  • fresh grated Asiago and Parmesan for two layers
  • Italian seasoning
Over medium-high heat, brown beef and add carrot, celery, onion, garlic, a sprinkle of oregano over the meat, and a few good sprinkles of salt and pepper, depending on your preferences of salt and pepper, keeping in mind the eggplant will have a little salt.

Cook and stir until beef is no longer pink and veggies are beginning to soften. DRAIN.

Add tomatoes, herbs, garlic, sugar, zucchini, yellow squash, tomato paste, 2 T Asiago and 1 T parmesan to the drained meat mixture.
Cook and stir over medium heat about 5 minutes. Taste for salt and pepper, if desired. Remove from heat.

In the bottom of a deep 9x13 inch baking dish, spread about a cup or so of the meat and tomato sauce, layer eggplant slices slightly overlapping each other.  On each slice, spread a spoonful of sauce, grate some parmesan and asiago cheese lightly over all the sauce, then sprinkle about half the mozzarella cheese over all.
Layer again with the last 8 slices slightly overlapping, sauce, parmesan, asiago and the rest of the mozzarella. Sprinkle lightly with Italian seasonings or parsley.

Cover with foil and bake in 375 oven for 30 minutes. TIP: spray the underside of the foil so the cheese doesn't stick to it!
After 30 minutes, take off foil and continue to cook for 15-30 minutes, until veggies are tender and cheese is melted.
Let stand about 10 minutes before cutting. 
Serve with garlic bread and extra parm, if desired.   YUM!

ppssst! It makes a to-die-for lunch the next day!

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