I used to think that I hated eggplant. My primary experiences with it have been in the form of eggplant parmesan and the two times I have eaten this I have really wanted to like it, but the flavor and texture just didn’t do it for me. I assumed that I just didn’t like eggplant. Until I had one of the best lasagnas ever and afterwords found out it had eggplant in it.
Last week our CSA box came with an eggplant, zucchini and a good helping of tomatoes. I decided I would try to recreate that lovely veggie lasagna, except my version would be pasta free. I’d seen an Alton Brown recipe for eggplant pasta and basically just followed that recipe but left the slices in tact to act as my lasagna “noodles” (I also left all the skin around the edges in tact.) This part is pretty easy – just thinly slice (about 1/4 inch) your eggplant, lengthwise. Lay the slices on a cooling rack that’s covered with one layer of paper towels and evenly salt the slices. Let them sit there for 30 minutes, then rinse off and pat dry with paper towels. Voila! You have “lasagna noddles.”
I wanted to make a totally homemade lasagna, so I started by making sauce from my Aunt Sharon’s recipe for Killer Sauce.
Where it says “Italian tomatoes,” that’s 60s Midwestern speak for roma tomatoes. Aunt Sharon says that mostly she used to use canned, but fresh will work too. Since I was using fresh, I added the extra step of roasting and skinning the tomatoes beforehand and I think that gives it a really nice flavor. I also used fresh basil since it’s peak basil season.
Next, I had a DIY cheese kit from Urban Cheese Craft that has been taunting me for a while now. I picked up a gallon of milk and made me some ricotta cheese! Seriously, there is nothing like fresh, warm ricotta cheese…mmmm.
I’ll admit though, I haven’t worked up the courage to go all the way and make mozzarella yet (this is where I caved on the totally homemade thing).
Next it was just a matter of layering. I brushed a thin coat of olive oil onto a 9×13 pan, then began with the first layer of eggplant, then I thinly sliced zucchini lengthwise and layered them in. Then slices of mushrooms. I sauteed half a large onion plus a clove of garlic and mixed that in with 2 cups of my ricotta along with two eggs. Stirred all that together and put about half of it down on top of the veggies, sprinkled mozzarella on top and then repeated the cycle: eggplant, zucchini, mushroom, cheese.
Next time I’ll remember to take pictures of the lasagna before it all gets gobbled up!