I was flipping through a co-worker’s home decor/homemaking magazine two weeks ago at work when I came across this recipe for Eggplant Lasagna. It struck a cord with me and I vowed that no matter how complicated it looked or how hard it would be for me to half the recipe I would make it! So I got all the ingredients and adapted some things I already had and set to work. It was so delicious that I’m willing to go through all the trouble to make it again. It is a little long and involved, but it really is scrumptious and healthy. The eggplant slices become the noodles (and I guess the meat as well), so it feels a lot healthier. And, really, it’s not as intimidating as it looks.
Makes 8 servings. Working time 30 minutes, total time 1 hr. 50 min.
2 large bell peppers (1 green, 1 red. I just used 1 green when I halved this recipe)
4 tbs extra virgin olive oil (I used vegetable oil because we ran out of olive oil!)
3/4 tsp each dried thyme and oregano leaves (I used “Italian Seasoning” which contains thyme and oregano, among “other spices”)
salt and pepper
3 medium eggplants (about 3 lbs), cut lengthwise into 1/3-inch-thick slices (I found an eggplant that weighed 1.5 lbs at the store)
1 medium onion, chopped
5 garlic cloves, chopped
5 cups store-bought marinara sauce (about 36 ounces). I used Classico Four Cheese.
16 ounces skim ricotta
1 1/2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated (I used the Kraft parm cheese that comes in that green cylindrical container)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves (I used dried ones from a spice can)
8 ounces part-skim mozzarella, shredded
1. Heat broiler. Roast peppers on a baking sheet, turning occasionally, until blackened, 10 to 15 minutes (It took my oven a little longer and it was only partially blackened, but it worked just fine). Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap for 10 minutes to steam and loosen skin. Scrape blackened skin from pepper, then seed (the seeds on mine just fell out). Slice into 2-and-1/4-inch strips and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, reduce oven heat to 350. In a small bowl, combine 3 tbs olive oil with thyme, oregano, and 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper. Brush both sides of eggplant slices with oil mixture and place in single layers on 3 baking sheets. Bake, in batches if necessary, until lightly browned and cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes per batch. I ended up brushing on more of this oil and spice mixture than it called for, I ended up using the whole recipe in this section for half of the eggplant.
3. In a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat, cook onion and 4 garlic cloves with remaining oil (1 tbs) until golden, about 8 minutes. Add marinara sauce, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 20 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, mix together ricotta, Parmigiano-Reggiano, remaining garlic, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Spread about 1 1/4 cups marinara sauce in bottom of a 9×13 in baking dish before assembling 3 layers. For the first layer: Place one-third of eggplant slices over sauce. Dollop one-third of ricotta mixture over eggplant, then sprinkle on one-third of mozzarella. Drizzle with 1 1/4 cups sauce and add half the peppers. Repeat the same process, layering eggplant, ricotta, mozzarella, sauce, and peppers. For third layer: Add remaining eggplant, ricotta, marinara sauce, and mozzarella. Bake lasagna at 350 for 40 to 45 minutes until sauce is bubbling and mozzarella is melted and beginning to brown.