Monday, July 30, 2012

Local Eggplant Lasagna

Going to the farmer's market on a Sunday morning is the best thing.  Ever.  Our favorite thing to do is grab a latte and stroll around the market, taking in the sights and looking for great local produce.  Things have been so hectic the past few months that I can count on one hand how many times we've been this season.  We were able to steal away a few minutes last Sunday and what a great idea that was!  We made out like bandits with delicious local tomatoes, yellow squash and zucchini.

Now, I'm Italian.  This is not a trait that makes it easy to be a healthy cook because cheese is such a staple in Italian food!  I'm always trying to recreate childhood favorites in a lighter, "lower in cheese" fashion.

Who doesn't love lasagna...

I don't know a single person.  That said, the pasta in this recipe is substituted for eggplant and I do know plenty of people who don't like eggplant.  Personally, I'm not the biggest fan of eggplant unless it's super mushy, but that's just my own personal taste.  This recipe is sure to make any eggplant hater a believer!  If you really have an aversion to it, just substitute zucchini, squash, bell peppers...just about any other vegetable that you love that would taste good with red sauce.

Eggplant Lasagna
This is a lot easier than it looks and the whole pan is only about $5-6!

Ingredients (serves 8):
- Homemade marinara sauce (if you're in a hurry, use your favorite jar of marinara sauce)
- 1 medium eggplant, sliced into thin rounds
- 1 small container low fat ricotta
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup shredded Italian cheese blend (you can sub any kind of cheese you like here, just don't overdo it!)
- 1/2 one vidalia onion, chopped
- 2 tbsp fresh parsley, minced
- 2 tbsp fresh basil, minced
- Freshly cracked salt and pepper

- Preheat oven to 400F
- Soak sliced eggplant in salted water for a few hours.  Remove eggplant and pat dry before assembling lasagna. VERY important or else you will have watery sauce!


Shot of the fresh basil.

Shot of the fresh, homemade marinara.

- Mix the ricotta, egg, salt, pepper and 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese.

- Coat the bottom of your baking pan (I used a 13x9 pan) with sauce.

- Layer an even sheet of eggplant slices on top of sauce.  Top each with a spoon of the ricotta mixture.

- Keep building with sauce in between each layer...cram 'em in there and squish down so that the flavors combine.  Scatter fresh herbs all around while you're building the layers.

- Put a generous layer of sauce on top so that the eggplant can cook through.

- Top with 1/4 cup of your favorite Italian cheese.  Wrap very tightly with foil.

- Bake at 400F for one hour.  No peeking!  Test to make sure that the eggplant is soft before you remove it from the oven.

* See how runny the sauce is above?  We were in a hurry and ate right away.  What I usually do and always suggest is to let the lasagna rest under the foil for 15-20 minutes after taking it out of the oven.  It will still be hot and this way, the water will reabsorb into the dish and it will be more solid and less runny.

Here's a shot of the finished product and YUM was it good!

I even served this the next night on top of pasta with some broccoli.  I don't believe in wasting delicious leftovers!


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