Let’s have a show of hands: who actually REALLY loves eggplant?
For me it was one of those grow-to-love kind of things. Previously – and by previously I mean pre-college – I only liked it in eggplant parmesan. Think about it: eggplant slices covered in seasoned breadcrumbs to hide the flavor and fried to hide the texture and covered in cheese and sauce to further distract you from the fact that you’re eating eggplant. Hey, sounds good to me!
Seriously though…it does sound good to me. And every time our family went to Olive Garden I would be so impressed with myself for ordering eggplant parmesan because I was eating a vegetable. And it didn’t taste like one! Whoever invented eggplant parmesan was (and still is) a genius in my mind. However, after college (because really, who can afford more than tuna and carrot sticks and Ramen in college?) I started to enjoy the flavor of eggplant more. Brown it and cook it down a little and it had this crazy unexpected nutty flavor to it. Who knew? Apparently not me…and while I still love the flavors of fried breadcrumbs, sauce and cheese it was nice to discover new flavors too.
To tell the truth this lasagna stemmed from two things: one, I only had half the number of lasagna noodles I needed for a normal lasagna and didn’t want to go to the store. And two, I had an elephant seal of an eggplant in the fridge that needed to be used STAT. At first I wasn’t sure what to think of the concoction that was born in my 9×13 Pyrex pan with the oh-so-handy lid on top, but last night after heating it up I knew that I’d found my new favorite lasagna recipe. See, sometimes kitchen oopsies aren’t oopsies at all…we’ll just call them divine intervention. Except for the salt-intead-of-sugar thing. That’s not divine at all…
- 1 large eggplant, peeled and chopped into small pieces
- 2 Tbsp olive oil + more for drizzling
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1 jar of your favorite tomato/spaghetti sauce (or use your own if you’d like!)
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- 15 oz ricotta cheese
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 1/4 cups parmesan
- 3/4 cup Italian breadcrumbs
- lasagna noodles (this is my favorite) – don’t pre-boil!
Preheat oven to 375. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil and eggplant, salt and pepper and cook until soft and golden brown. In a large bowl mix together the cooked eggplant and the tomato sauce. In another bowl whisk together the ricotta, egg, and garlic powder. In another bowl (sorry for the dishes…it’s worth it!) mix together 3/4 of a cup of parmesan into the 3/4 cup breadcrumbs. Spray a 9×13 dish with nonstick spray and layer a small amount of tomato sauce, a layer of lasagna noodles, 1/3 of the ricotta mixture, 1/3 of the mozzarella, 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese, 1/2 of the tomato sauce, a layer of lasagna noodles, 1/3 of the ricotta mixture, 1/3 of the mozzarella, 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese, 1/2 of the tomato sauce, the last of the ricotta mixture, the last of the mozzarella, and finally the breadcrumbs/parmesan mixture on top. Drizzle with a little olive oil, cover with foil and bake at 375 for 1 hour. Remove the foil and let bake another 10 minutes or until the top is golden brown and bubbly. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes to let the juices set before serving…the perfect amount of time to warm up some garlic bread and throw a salad together!