This post was actually written and the lasagna prepared last summer, when I was at the height of the Great Eggplant Glut of 2017. At the time, I promised that I’d post the recipe. Well. my birthday is coming next week and I was in need of something to prepare in celebration. Unfortunately, despite recent attempts to stretch the parameters, I’m still rather restricted to soft foods. Just as I’ve done, i could make a soup, or pasta, or soup with pasta but I wanted something a bit more special. Enter eggplant lasagna. Lucky for me, there’s a tray waiting for me in the freezer. Oh, boy!
Now, to be clear, this dish contains my homemade pasta and, therefore, is not gluten-free (GF). If the noodles are to be omitted, I’d rather make eggplant parmesan, this lasagna’s GF cousin. Well, it is my birthday and sometimes I just want a nice plate of good old-fashioned gluten. Sue me but at least send a birthday card before you do.
The recipe is easy enough. You can use any kind of lasagna noodle that you wish. Follow the directions on the package for store-bought noodles. If using “no-bake” noodles, I give them a quick rinse in hot tap water before placing in the tray. That helps to ensure that each noodle gets enough moisture to cook properly. If at all possible, use freshly made pasta noodles, They only require about a two-minute blanch in boiling water before use but the difference in taste is remarkable. Do it once and you’ll be sold.
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ETA: For a slightly different take, one more true to the dish’s Sicilian roots, take a look at Bea’s recipe on her delicious Viaggiando con Bea, Travels with Bea. One can never have too many lasagna recipes.
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Eggplant Lasagna Recipe
- medium-sized eggplants (see Notes)
- cooking spray
- about 1 quart tomato sauce (Vegetarians use meatless)
- butter to grease the baking dish
- pasta sheets to create 3 layers
- 4 oz mozzarella cheese, grated
- 4 oz Asiago cheese, grated
- 4 oz Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
- fresh mozzarella, cut into rounds
- Pecorino Romano cheese, grated, for serving
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- Preheat oven to 450˚ F (230˚ C). Liberally butter baking dish/pan.
- Prepare the eggplant(s):
- Trim off ends of eggplants and slice into 1/2 inch rounds. (See Notes)
- Place rounds in a single layer on a rack resting upon a baking sheet.
- Lightly spray each side and sprinkle with salt.
- Bake for 15 minutes,
- Remove from oven and reserve.
- Reduce oven to 350˚ F (175˚ C).
- Meanwhile, cook lasagna noodles per package instructions,
- If using fresh noodles, par-boil for about 2 minutes before rinsing is cold water.
- Assemble the lasagna:
- Lightly coat the bottom of the baking dish/pan with tomato sauce.
- Place enough pasta sheets to create a single layer.
- Add a single layer of eggplant rounds.
- Cover with a layer of sauce.
- Sprinkle half of the grated cheese mixture.
- Sprinkle with 1/3 of the grated Pecorino Romano.
- Add another layer of noodles, eggplant rounds, sauce, and cheeses.
- Add the final layer of noodles and enough tomato sauce to cover.
- Evenly distribute the mozzarella rings and sprinkle the rest of the Pecorino Romano cheese on top.
- Cover with aluminum foil. (See Notes)
- Bake for 20 minutes, uncover, raise the oven temperature to 450˚F (230˚ C), and bake until lightly browned, about 20 minutes more.
- Allow to rest for at least 15 minutes before serving. Be sure to have grated Pecorino Romano available at the table. (See Notes)
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You will need enough eggplant rings to create 2 layers in whatever size baking dish/pan you’re going to use.
When preparing eggplant parmesan, I do not peel the eggplant, the peel adding structure to the dish. In lasagna, the noodles add some structure, so, strips of the eggplant’s peel are removed.
Lightly coating the inside of the aluminum foil with cooking spray will help prevent it sticking to the mozzarella should the 2 come in contact while baking.
Once baking is complete, be sure to give the lasagna ample time to rest and set. It will be easier to serve and will retain its shape far better than if sliced immediately upon removal from the oven.
This past summer, I made a couple extra trays of lasagna and froze them. Once fully cooked and cooled, wrap the trays in plastic wrap before wrapping with aluminum foil. The night before you intend to serve the lasagna, place the tray in the fridge for defrosting. The next day, unwrap and remove the plastic wrap, and place the tray, recovered with foil, into a preheated 350˚ F (175˚ C) oven. Serve when heated through.
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It’s déjà vu all over again …
It’s that time of year again. Every January, I go to the freezer in my basement and retrieve a bag of frozen tart cherries. The current January Thaw notwithstanding, a mid-winter cherry pie reminds me of the previous summer when the cherries were bought and put away, out of sight. Now, while I prepare, bake, and enjoy a cherry pie, I cannot help but dream of the summer to come. Old Man Winter may still claim the outdoors but here, in my kitchen, summer rules once again. And if this doesn’t work? No problem. There’s another bag in that freezer, though it’s contents will be used to prepare cherry muffins. One way or another, summer is coming. (Take that, Jon Snow! You can see the cherry pie recipe HERE and the cherry muffin recipe HERE.
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Coming soon to a monitor near you …
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