Friday, July 27, 2012

Grilled Eggplant Lasagna

I was just wandering around the farmer's market near me, gathering the usual things I buy... onions, tomatoes... you know, the normal stuff.  Then I saw them.  The most beautiful dark purple, almost black, eggplant... aubergine if you prefer.

When I had a BBQ at my disposal, I used to love marinating slices of eggplant in olive oil and balsamic vinegar and grilling it.  Some of my friends would make it into baba ganoush - there is nothing like homemade baba ganoush.  My mom makes an eggplant caponata that is amazing.  And of course, there's always eggplant parmesan.  Eggplant is just so versatile.

I will also mention that when I was in Scotland with some dear friends, there was an Indian restaurant below our flat that made the most amazing eggplant recipe... I only wish I could remember the name or find the recipe, because it was a taste of heaven on a fork... I'm not kidding... absolute heaven.

Now... with all those wonderful ideas running around my mind, I bought 2 aubergines to take home and cook.  After a couple days of not being able to make up my mind about what I would turn these beautiful purple nightshades into, I finally decided to make up my own recipe.  So I give you The Lazy Wife's Grilled Eggplant Lasagna.

Normally, I have more pictures, but I wasn't really sure the recipe would turn out that great, so I didn't take pictures till I had the whole thing assembled.  Oh well. 


Grilled Eggplant Lasagna

Serves 8 - 12 depending on the size of the pieces

2 small-medium eggplant (1/4 - 1/2" slices lengthwise)
2 sausages (I used Aidells Artichoke & Garlic, grilled them and sliced lengthwise)
1 lb package mozzarella cheese (thin sliced)
1 quart Marinara sauce (I used some of the crockpot sauce I made earlier in the week for spagetti, I used the same sausage in it, so it went really well - you could also use your favorite canned sauce)
2 lb container ricotta cheese
1 onion (cut in quarters then thin slice half moons - does that make sense to anyone?)
2 carrots (shredded)
2 eggs
2 TBsp dried basil
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
2 TBsp balsamic vinegar
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper

Prep your veggies. Place the eggplant slices in your lasagna dish (I used my biggest glass casserole dish, if you're lucky enough to have a lasagna pan, use that) salt and pepper them, and drizzle olive oil and balsamic vinegar on both sides.  I didn't measure the oil and vinegar, because I use bottles with pour spouts... I would assume I used about 2 - 3 TBsp of each - the eggplant will soak up quite a bit of liquid.

Saute the onions with a little olive oil and salt & pepper.  They will take a little while to get soft and start to caramelize on low heat, so you can start grilling your eggplant while you occasionally stir the onions.

I don't have a BBQ... so I used a cast iron grill pan that I picked up for a few bucks.  I grilled the eggplant on medium heat.  This is mostly to get the great grilled eggplant flavor, and also to remove some of the water from the eggplant so the lasagna doesn't end up too soupy.  The eggplant should be fairly soft and have good grill marks on it (good browning if using a regular pan).

Put the ricotta in a large bowl.  Add the eggs, basil, parmesan cheese, and carrots.  Mix well.  When the onions are done, let them cool a little, then add them to the ricotta cheese mix, and stir well.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Once the eggplant slices are all grilled, it's time to assemble.  You can pour out any excess oil and vinegar from your pan and dry it off.

Put a quarter of your marinara sauce in the bottom of the pan.
Then do a layer using half the grilled eggplant.
Spread about half the ricotta mixture on top of the eggplant.
Place about half the mozzarella on top of the ricotta.
Then add the sausage slices.
Spread half the remaining marinara sauce.
Then the rest of the eggplant.
Spread the remaining ricotta on that.
Then spread the rest of the sauce.
I had one piece of eggplant that didn't fit in its layer, so I put that on top of the ricotta.
Then put the remaining mozzarella on top and sprinkled a little parmesan cheese on top for great justice.

Put it in the oven (on the middle rack) and bake, uncovered, for 30-40 minutes until the cheese is melty and starting to brown, and the sauce is bubbling on the sides... Mmmmm it smells so delicious!

Wait for it to cool... it's really hard, I know...  I actually wasn't eating mine right away, I did sneak a taste, and it's very delicious :)  I let it cool and put it in the fridge overnight, then sliced a piece for lunch today.  It's just as delicious when microwaved.

I think it would even make a good freezer lunch, if you wanted something to take to work.  You could slice it up after refrigerating, then freeze the pieces individually in microwave safe containers.  Take that to work and reheat in a microwave, just like you would with a store bought frozen lasagna.


This recipe is gluten free, and an easy way to make this dish lacto-ovo vegetarian friendly, is to leave out the sausage slices and the meat in the sauce.

*Note: My husband has not yet taste tested this recipe, so I cannot say it's husband approved... I'll let you know the verdict as soon as he tries it.

Follow-up: Well, my husband liked it!  And if you knew how much my husband dislikes vegetables, you'd be amazed too.  He did say that it was a little hard to cut through with a fork, because I left the eggplant slices whole.  Next time I might dice them up... or maybe I'll just make him use a knife.

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