#header-inner {background-position: center !important; width: 100% !important;}

Monday, September 21, 2009

Eggplant Lasagna

Funny little fact: Ryan ordered eggplant parmesan on our very first date. To remind him of this momentous occasion, I like to prepare eggplant as often as possible! Actually, we've discovered that giant eggplants are ridiculously cheap at our local farmer's market so I've started to take advantage and incorporate eggplant into more of our meals. I found this recipe in my Real Simple magazine and decided to give it a shot, especially since it called for using a food processor and I'm obsessed with my new favorite kitchen tool :)

The great thing about this dish is that it can be prepared ahead of time. I actually made the lasagna on Sunday afternoon when I had some free time and kept it covered in the fridge until tonight when we ate it. I was thrilled to come home tonight, knowing all I had to do was stick it in the oven and thankfully, it still tasted incredibly fresh! It was a little runny, and I'm not sure what caused that, but it didn't affect that taste at all. This wasn't my favorite way to eat eggplant, but overall I liked it.

Eggplant Lasagna (recipe adapted from the September issue of Real Simple and can be found here)

See below for most of the process in pictures!

1/2 lb plum tomatoes, halved and seeded (I used 5, which was slightly more than 1/2 lb)
1 clove garlic (I doubled, we love garlic!)
4 tablespoons olive oil
kosher salt & black pepper
2 eggplants (about 3 lbs), sliced lengthwise 1/4 inch thick (I used 1 giant eggplant and didn't even use the whole thing)
1 cup ricotta
1 large egg
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped (I used dried)
1/4 cup grated Asiago or Parmesan (we were almost out, I just sprinkled what we had left on top)
~1-2 cups spinach

1. Heat broiler. In a food processor, puree the tomatoes, garlic, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper.
2. In 2 batches, arrange the eggplant on a broilerproof baking sheet, brush with 2 tablespoons of the oil, and season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper (I didn't measure this, just sprinkled away) Broil until charred and tender, 3-4 minutes per side.
3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the ricotta, egg, basil, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper.
4. Spread half the tomato sauce in the bottom of an 8-inch square baking dish. On top of it, layer a third of the eggplant and half the ricotta mixture. Add a layer of spinach. Repeat with another layer of eggplant and ricotta. Add another layer of spinach. Top with the remaining eggplant and tomato sauce. Sprinkle with the cheese.
5. If baking immediately, heat oven to 400 degrees and bake for 15-20 minutes. If making ahead, cover well and refrigerate for up to 2 days. When you're ready to bake it, reheat at 350 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes. (mine took xx minutes)

Real Simple tells you to serve this lasagna with mixed greens, drizzled with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Instead, I added greens to the dish itself. I loved the addition of spinach to the lasagna, but I'm sure it would be good either way!

Making the sauce via my food processor :)

sliced eggplant, pre-broil

and post-broil

the ricotta mixture

Layer 1, sauce + eggplant

a layer of spinach

ricotta added in
after all of the layering, topped with the remainder of the sauce

sprinkled with cheese and ready to bake

messy to cut and attempt to photograph, but that didn't affect the taste :)