Eggplant Lasagna

Eggplant Lasagna
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eggplant lasagna
Mainly veggies, so no side needed!

Eggplant puzzles us. When we pick up one (or two) as part of our CSA share, we just place it in the crisper bin, and spend several days trying to figure out what to make. We always think of something; depending on the season, it might be Ratatouille, or perhaps, Eggplant Gnocchi, or even Crispy Eggplant Strips. It seems to grow well enough that there’s always more eggplant to use, someway, somehow.

This week, we decide to go with Eggplant Lasagna, using the eggplant in place of pasta. It seems to be the perfect vegetable to slice into thin disks and use for layering, and, anyway, who wants to boil up pasta sheets (in reality, we make our own pasta sheets; fresh pasta doesn’t need to be boiled before layering in lasagna)? We also decided that we’d go with goat cheese, instead of the more traditional ricotta, mainly because we had it in the house.

This is another 100% Scratchin’ It recipes, and you read it here first.

Eggplant Lasagna

Yield: 8 servings

Eggplant Lasagna


    For the eggplant
  • 1 cloves garlic, minced, divided
  • Leaves from a 4-inch sprig fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 Tbs vegetable oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 eggplant, peeled and slice about 1/4 inch thick
  • For the sauce
  • 2 Tbs vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup diced white onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and grated
  • 6 ounces white mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1 can (14 ounce) diced tomatoes
  • 1 Tbs dried oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 6 ounce frozen peas
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • For the cheese
  • 12 ounces fresh goat cheese
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 Tbs dried basil
  • Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
  • For assembly
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Abbreviated Instructions

For the eggplant

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking pan with parchment.

Place garlic, rosemary, and salt in a small bowl, and crush garlic into a past with the back of a spoon. Add oil and freshly ground black pepper to taste and stir to combine.

On prepared pan, place a layer of eggplant slices. Brush with oil mixture. Add another layer, and brush with oil mixture. Continue until all eggplant is layered.

Roast in the oven until starting to char, about 30-40 minutes. Let cool.

Reduce oven to 350°F for baking the assembled lasagna.

For the sauce

While the eggplant is roasting, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions, and fry until tender, about 7 minutes. Add garlic and grated carrots and fry until the carrots start sticking to the pan. Add mushrooms and wine and cook until mushrooms are tender and wine is reduce by about half.

Add tomatoes, oregano, bay leaf, and kosher salt. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until thick. Add peas and bring to a simmer to heat all the way through. Remove from heat.

For the cheese

In a medium bowl, stir together goat cheese, eggs, basil, and nutmeg. Set aside.

For assembly

Lightly oil a 9x13 inch pan. Place a light layer of sauce on the bottom, followed by half the eggplant, half the remaining sauce, and half the goat cheese mixture. Layer on remaining eggplant, press smooth, then top with remaining sauce and remaining cheese mixture.

Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, cover with a piece of parchment, and bake until bubbling through, about 45 minutes. Remove parchment and bake until cheese is browned, 15 minutes more.

Remove from oven and let stand for 15 minutes before slicing and serving.

Ingredient discussion:

We used fresh goat cheese, but use ricotta, if you wish. Regardless of the cheese, if you can, make sure to use real eggs from hens that peck and scratch — real pastured hens — they’re just the best. Also, we wanted some green vegetable in our sauce and only had peas; we think a bunch of spinach or Swiss chard would be fine, too. We use the carrots to sweeten and thicken the sauce, but you’ll never be able to tell they’re in the sauce once it’s all baked. Of course, if you don’t like mushrooms, just omit them.

Procedure in detail:

For the eggplant:

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking pan with parchment. We simply placed a piece of parchment in the 9×13 inch pan we’d be using for the assembled lasagna, so we wouldn’t be dirtying multiple pans. You can reuse this parchment to cover the lasagna later. Just a tip.

making oil marinade
We like to mash the garlic so its flavor will be distributed throughout.

Mash garlic and rosemary. Place rosemary, garlic, and salt in a small bowl, and use the back of a spoon to mash and smash the garlic into a paste. We don’t really enjoy biting into a piece of garlic, raw, or cooked, so we mash. It also makes sure that our mixture will have garlic flavor throughout.

Add oil. Stir in the oil and season to taste with freshly ground black pepper. As an aside, we never used a lot of pepper until we picked up a grinder (in fact, we had a 4-oz. container of black pepper for years). We’re glad we found the grinder, because the flavor of freshly ground black pepper is so much better. We probably go through an ounce of pepper a month.

eggplant for roasting
It’s okay if you have 4 or so layers of eggplant; it’ll just take a bit longer in the oven.

Layer eggplant. Place a layer of eggplant on the prepared pan and brush with the oil mixture. Follow with another, and another, until the eggplant is all in the pan, brushed with oil and ready for the oven. Don’t worry if you have to skimp on the oil mixture from time to time; the flavors will still get in there.

roasted eggplant
It’s okay if not all the eggplant is charred, but you should have some charring.

Roast. Into the oven for 35-40 minutes, or possibly a bit longer, depending on the number of layers of eggplant. This roasting will dry out the eggplant, plus char it in spots, so watch it near the end so it isn’t too charred.

Set aside. Remove from the oven and set aside to let cool so you can handle it when layering the lasagna. We just lifted out the parchment, eggplant and all.

Lower oven to 350°F. The lasagna bakes at a lower temperature, so decrease the oven setting to 350°F.

For the sauce:

Fry onions. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot and shimmery, add the onions and fry, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 7 minutes. We like to sprinkle the onions with salt and pepper as they start frying. It’s just a habit we’ve adopted.

adding shredded carrots
We’ve bought multi-colored carrots for a while now, simply because we like the way they look.

Add garlic and carrots. Once the onions are tender, add the garlic and grated carrots and stir to mix. Continue to fry, stirring from time to time, until the carrots are starting to stick to the bottom of the pan.

making sauce
The red wine is key to this sauce, but, if you don’t use it, your sauce will still be good.

Add mushrooms and wine. Stir in mushrooms and wine, scraping up bits of carrot from the pan, and let simmer and boil until the mushrooms are tender and the wine is reduced by about half.

adding tomatoes and spices
Naturally, remove the bay leaf somewhere along the line.

Add tomatoes and herbs. Mix in the tomatoes, oregano, bay leaf, and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the sauce is thick and most of the liquid has evaporated. Taste and adjust seasoning.

adding peas
Feel free to use something else in place of the peas; it’s just what we had on hand.

Add peas. Stir in the frozen peas and continue to simmer until the peas are heated through. Set aside until assembly. Also, remove the bay leaf.

For the cheese:
Making cheese filling
We almost forgot to add the nutmeg! But we did have a last-minute save.

Mix ingredients. In a medium bowl, stir together cheese, eggs, basil, and nutmeg until smooth and creamy. If needed, add just a touch of milk or cream to smooth out the mixture. Set aside.

For assembly:

Oil pan. Lightly oil a 9×13 inch baking pan.

layering lasagna
As you’re layering, you should try to spread the fillings around and smooth them. We did that right after this photo was taken.
layered lasagna
Ah, nothing like Parmesan cheese on top for some nice browning action.

Layer. We layered our lasagna this way: light sauce, eggplant, sauce, cheese, eggplant, sauce, cheese, and Parmesan cheese, using enough in each layer so all the ingredients would be gone at the end. You can layer yours in a different order, but we’d suggest you keep a light layer of sauce on the bottom to help prevent sticking, and the Parmesan on the top for a nice browning. We’d also suggest that you smooth the layers as you work.

Bake covered. Cover the lasagna with a layer of parchment (we used the same piece that we’d placed under the eggplant slices), which will keep the top from browning too much, while allowing moisture to escape. You could use foil, but we don’t like to do that because the tomato sauce tends to eat holes in the foil. We really don’t want aluminum in our lasagna. Bake until the lasagna is nice and bubbly throughout, about 45 minutes.

Brown cheese. Remove the parchment and bake an additional 15 minutes, or until the cheese on top is nice and browned.

Lasagna is easier to serve if you let it stand for 15 minutes. The slices hold together.

Stand. Let the lasagna stand for about 15 minutes before serving to give it a chance to set up a bit making it easier to slice and plate

We weren’t sure we’d really like this all that much, but it turned out to be delicious. So tasty that we figured we’d write it up so you could try it yourself. It’s a great way to use eggplant, and we were really surprised by how much we liked the red wine in the sauce. We don’t drink red wine, but we had some in the house from a previous cooking experiment, so we figured we’d use some to add flavor, and it’s a great addition. Five stars.

Worth the trouble?

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