Monday, February 14, 2011

Eggplant Lasgana

Like the gluten-free love child of eggplant Parmesan and lasagna. Although, the picture is not much to look at...

After several successful attempts at eggplant Parmesan I wanted to try something with a similar flavor, but without the breading or frying. I have, over those Parmesan trials, developed a process to prep the eggplant in a way to minimize its bitterness and make the flesh much denser (and less slimy when cooked). It adds an hour to the prep time, but I find the payoff far worth it.

The recipe is my own.

serves 6

The Ingredients:
1 medium eggplant, cut lengthwise into 1/4" slices
kosher salt
1 cup shredded mozzarella, divided in thirds

The Sauce

1 can (14 oz) diced tomatoes
1 can (4 oz) tomato paste
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp sugar substitute
salt and pepper to taste

Spinach filling

1 Tbps olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 large white onion, thinly sliced
3 cups fresh baby spinach

Ricotta filling
8 oz low fat ricotta cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp dried oregano

The Process:
Generously salt both sides of the slices of eggplant and arrange in a single layer on a baking sheets covered with paper towels. Top the slices with additional paper toweling and cover with a second baking sheet. Weight the sheet down with books or baking ware to compress the eggplant. Leave for one hour. When ready to use, wipe off excess salt.

Preheat the oven to 350.

For the sauce, in a medium saucepan, combine the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, parsley and basil over medium heat. Stir until well blended. Bring to a gentle boil, and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 10-15 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and set aside

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add the garlic and onion. Saute until the onion begins to turn tender. Add the baby spinach and saute until the spinach has wilted, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a medium bowl combine the ricotta, 1/4 cup mozzarella, Parmesan, egg, basil and oregano until well blended.

Mist a 9"x9" baking dish with cooking spray. Layer about 1/3 of the eggplant in the bottom of the dish. Top with 1/2 of the spinach mixture, 1/2 of the ricotta mixture, 1/3 of the mozzarella and about a third of the sauce. Repeat the layers, starting with the eggplant. Top the any remaining eggplant, and sauce. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and, if desired, Parmesan cheese.

Bake uncovered for 40-45 minutes or until heated through and the eggplant is tender. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

The Review:
We had a guest who had never tried eggplant before and even she truly enjoyed this dish. The flavors are simple (granted the prep is not). And with all of the textures and flavors, you really don't miss the noodles or meat. I would have loved to add portobella mushrooms to the spinach mixture; however, fungus is regularly shunned from any shared meals. And to shorten the prep time, any jar of sauce will do,as will ricotta without all the extras. I just prefer my own seasonings.

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