Roasted Eggplant Lasagna

After making a fabulous dish from this book, Flattened Chicken Thighs With Roasted Lemon Slices, I knew I had to try another. The preparation involved to make this dish was a sharp contrast to the quick-cooking chicken thighs, but I knew it would be worth every minute. Twenty cloves of garlic too! 🙂

This might be the most labor-intensive lasagna I’ve ever made, but it was certainly one of the best. The recipe was adapted from Mozza at Home: More than 150 Crowd-Pleasing Recipes for Relaxed, Family-Style Entertaining by Nancy Silverton with Carolyn Carreno. I used large eggs and substituted some reduced-fat dairy. I also omitted the olives, straining the béchamel, pre-cooking the pasta, as well as broiling the baked lasagna.

Because I used un-cooked pasta when layering my dish, I was not able to use the genius tip of cutting the lasagna prior to baking. Thankfully, I didn’t have any difficultly cutting it after it was fully cooked. Absolutely amazing!!

For the Eggplants:

  • 2 large eggplants (2 to 2 1/2 pounds)
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/2 cup large garlic cloves (about 20 large cloves), peeled and sliced 1/16 inch thick lengthwise (preferably on a mandoline)
  • 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes (preferably San Marzano)
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup (about 3 oz) pitted small black olives, such as Taggiasche, Nicoise, or Kalamata, optional
  • 3 T za’atar or dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp red chile flakes

For the Cheese Sauce:

  • 1/2 large yellow Spanish onion, halved root to tip, peeled
  • 4 T (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 arbol chile pod
  • 2 fresh or dried bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 quart whole milk (I used 2 cups whole milk & 2 cups 1 percent milk)
  • 2 tsp coarse salt
  • 12 ounces (3 cups) shredded low-moisture mozzarella (part-skim okay)
  • 8 ounces (1 cup) fresh ricotta
  • 1/2 cup (about 2 ounces) finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten

For the Pasta & Assembly:

  • 16-ounce package dried lasagna noodles (I used DeCecco)
  • 1 cup (about 4 ounces) finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  1. Prepare the Eggplant: The eggplant is roasted on the oven floor. If using an electric oven, adjust the oven racks so that one is closest to the oven floor and put a pizza stone on it. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
  2. Trim and discard the tip and stem ends of the eggplants and cut the eggplants into 1-inch cubes.
  3. Divide the eggplant pieces between two large baking sheets. Drizzle each portion with 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Toss and gently massage the cubes to coat the eggplant. Spread the eggplant cubes out in a single layer on the baking sheets.
  4. Cooking one batch at a time, put one baking sheet on the oven floor or on a pizza stone on the lowest rack and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until the cubes are dark brown all over and beginning to lose their shape, rotating the baking sheet from front to back and moving the cubes with a metal spatula halfway through the cooking time so that they don’t stick.
  5. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, season with 1 teaspoon of salt; set aside.
  6. Repeat with the second batch of eggplant.
  7. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, season the second baking sheet or roasted eggplant cubes with 1 teaspoon of salt; set aside.
  8. Combine the garlic and the remaining 1/4 cup oil in a large Dutch oven or another large high-sided pot over medium heat. Cook until the garlic is soft and very light golden brown, stirring constantly so it doesn’t burn, about 5 minutes.
  9. Add the tomatoes, sugar, and the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, stir to combine, and cook the tomatoes for 5 to 6 minutes, until they thicken slightly.
  10. Spoon out and reserve 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce.
  11. Add the roasted eggplant, olives (if using), za’atar or oregano, pepper, and red chile flakes. Stir to combine and cook until the eggplants have taken on the color of the sauce, about 5 minutes. (Add 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup water if the sauce becomes dry or sticky.)
  12. Turn off the heat and set aside while you make the cheese sauce.
  13. Make the Cheese Sauce (& Béchamel): Trim and discard the root end of the onion half. Cut the onion half in half again root to tip so the onion is quartered. Slice 1/4-inch lengthwise.
  14. Combine the butter, onion, chile pod, and bay leaves in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-low heat.
  15. Cook, stirring often, until the butter is melted and the onion is soft but not brown, about 10 minutes.
  16. Add the flour, whisking constantly to remove any lumps, and cook for 2 minutes to cook off the flour flavor.
  17. Gradually add 1 cup of the milk, whisking constantly.
  18. Increase the heat to high and cook the sauce, whisking constantly, until it begins to thicken, about 1 minute.
  19. Add another cup of the remaining milk, whisking constantly.
  20. Return the sauce to a boil and add the remaining 2 cups milk, whisking constantly.
  21. Return the sauce to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer, whisking or stirring constantly, until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 3 to 4 minutes.
  22. Turn off the heat and stir in the salt.
  23. Remove and discard the chile pod and bay leaves.
  24. With a ladle, remove 1 cup of the béchamel; set aside.
  25. Add the mozzarella, ricotta, Parmigiano, and the eggs to the pot with the remaining béchamel and gently whisk to combine.
  26. Adjust the oven rack so that one is in the middle position. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  27. Assemble & Finish the Dish: Spread 1/2 cup reserved tomato sauce over the bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish.
  28. Lay 6 half-sheets (or 3 full sheets) of lasagna on the bottom of the pan to cover it.
  29. Add half of the tomato-eggplant sauce (about 2 1/2 cups) and spread it evenly over the pasta.
  30. Spoon half of the cheese sauce over the sauce and spread it in an even layer to the edge and into the corners of the pan.
  31. Lay an additional 6 half-sheets (or 3 full sheets) of pasta over the cheese sauce. Press down on the pasta sheets with the palms of your hands to remove air bubbles and to ensure that the layers are flat and even.
  32. Spoon remaining tomato-eggplant sauce over the top; spread evenly.
  33. Spoon remaining cheese sauce over the top; spread evenly and to the edges and corners of the pan.
  34. Lay a final layer of pasta on top.
  35. Using a rubber spatula, gently spread the reserved béchamel evenly over the top of the lasagna.
  36. Sprinkle with Parmigiano.
  37. Put the lasagna on a baking sheet and put it in the oven to bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until the edges are golden brown and puffed up a bit. Rotate the pan halfway through the baking time.
  38. Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 1 hour before serving.

Note: The pasta can be prepared through step #34 a day in advance. Cover the pan and refrigerate until ready to bake.

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Birthday Lasagna

I am partial to lasagna laden with mushrooms and spinach… with plenty of cheese, of course. 🙂

When requesting his birthday menu, my son wanted “regular” lasagna, “you know, with just meat and cheese!” His wish was my command. 🙂 It was delicious!

This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart. I used ground turkey and chicken sausage, added red pepper flakes, and increased the amount of garlic. We ate it with garlic bread and Caesar salad. He absolutely loved it. It was even more celebratory for him to eat it with our special “Happy Birthday” fork. 🙂

  • 1/2 sprig basil, (3 tablespoons coarsely chopped)
  • 4 ounces Parmesan, (1 cup finely grated)
  • 14 oz (about 1 1/4 cups) whole milk ricotta
  • 1 1/2 pounds mozzarella (5 cups grated)
  • 1 pound no-boil lasagna noodles (I needed 2 additional sheets.)
  • 28 ounces canned, diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1-2 dashes red pepper flakes, optional, or to taste
  • 1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage (casings removed) or sun-dried tomato-basil chicken sausage (casings removed)
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 T olive oil
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Make the sauce: Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a skillet over medium heat; cook onion, garlic, salt, and pepper 1 minute.
  3. Add turkey and sausage; cook, breaking up with a spoon, until browned, about 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in tomatoes, red pepper flakes, and oregano. Reduce heat; simmer 1 minute.
  5. Remove from heat. Stir in basil. Taste and adjust seasonings, as necessary.
  6. Coat baking dish with cooking spray or oil; spread a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of the dish.
  7. Top with a layer of noodles. (I used 6 noodles per layer.)
  8. Next, spread a third of the ricotta, then 1 1/2 cups sauce, on top. Sprinkle with 1 cup mozzarella and 3 tablespoons Parmesan. Repeat these steps 2 more times.
  9. Top with a layer of noodles, the remaining sauce, mozzarella and Parmesan.
  10. Cover with parchment paper topped with foil; bake 20 minutes.
  11. Remove foil and parchment; bake 20 minutes more. Let rest 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

Vegetarian Variation: Clean and trim 8 ounces button mushrooms; finely chop in a food processor. Follow the recipe, but in step 2, cook onion and garlic in 2 tablespoons olive oil. In step 3, add mushrooms, 1 cup diced zucchini, and 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper instead of turkey and sausage; cook, stirring, until just tender, about 6 minutes. After simmering with the tomatoes and oregano in step 4, stir in 4 cups chopped spinach along with basil.

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Broken Pasta with Shredded Pork & Arugula

Arugula is my absolute favorite item in my CSA share. It is so peppery and fabulous. I loved that this cozy comfort food dish used it as a glorious and bright topping along with lemon juice and cheese.

This dish was adapted from chef Nick Anderer of restaurant Maialino in New York, via Smitten Kitchen. I used boneless pork shoulder ribs instead of a whole pork shoulder, increased the lemon juice and cheese, added a carrot and omitted the fennel. I also cooked the meat in a slow cooker instead of the oven.

I reserved half of the cooked meat, after step 9, to freeze to enjoy at a later date. Nice.

Yield: Serves 8 to 10

  • 4 pounds boneless pork shoulder rib pieces (or 1 bone-in pork shoulder, about 4 pounds)
  • coarse salt
  • 4 T olive oil, divided
  • 1 large white or yellow onion, peeled and cut into large pieces
  • 2 large ribs celery, cut into large pieces
  • 1 carrot or 1 small fennel bulb, trimmed and cut into large pieces
  • 1 quart chicken stock, plus a splash or two more, if needed
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 20-ounces dry lasagna, broken into 3-inch shards
  • 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or more to taste
  • 4 tablespoons (or more) grated or shaved parmesan or grand padano cheese
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley, if desired
  • Large handful or two of arugula leaves, cleaned
  1. Prepare pork: Use a sharp knife to remove the thick skin from the pork, but not trimming off all the fat — leave a thin sheen. Season generously with salt and place in fridge until ready to use — overnight is ideal but a few hours will cut it as well.
  2. Sear the pork: Heat a deep saucepan over medium-high and add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. When it shimmers, gently cook the onion, celery and carrot (or fennel) until they begin to soften, about 10 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.
  3. Dry pork with a paper towel to remove some excess salt. Season with pepper. Add an additional 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan, then add the pork and cook until browned on all sides.
  4. Add pork to a slow cooker. Add broth, vegetables, and thyme sprigs. Cover.
  5. Cook on high for 3 hours. Remove pork from braising liquid. Allow to cool enough to be able to handle.
  6. Using two forks, tear the meat into bite-size shreds. Place in a large bowl.
  7. Strain the braising liquid, pouring enough of it over the pork to barely cover it and keep it from drying out. Place back in the slow cooker insert and set to warm.
  8. Pour the rest of the braising liquid into the original saucepan and simmer it until it is reduced by half.
  9. Add pork and cooking liquid that has covered it, and warm it back to a simmer. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more salt and pepper if needed. (**At this point, I reserved half of the meat and braising liquid to freeze for use at another time.**)
  10. Add the butter and stir to emulsify. (Because I removed half of the pork, I used 1/2 of the amount of ingredients listed above for the remainder of this dish, including the butter.)
  11. Bring large pot of well-salted water to boil. Cook pasta until al dente, or usually a minute shy of package directions. (I used no-cook lasagna noodles and cooked them for about 8 minutes.)
  12. Drain and add to the pork mixture, simmering for 1 minute.
  13. Add the lemon juice, half the cheese and parsley, if using.
  14. Ladle into wide pasta bowls with and top with arugula and remaining cheese.

Note: If saving some of the pork to use later, rewarm the defrosted pork and braising liquid to a simmer, add a splash or two of pasta cooking water if needed to loosen it, and then the butter. Add freshly cooked pasta, lemon juice and parmesan from here.

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Garlic Parmesan Chicken Lasagna Bake

I love dishes that use rotisserie chicken meat. Not only is it a time-saver, but the meat is really flavorful. This cheesy casserole is a cross between a lasagna and a chicken pot pie… basically combining the two ultimate comfort food dishes. It was great! 🙂

This recipe was adapted from A Pinch of Yum, via The Richmond Avenue. I used Herbes de Provence instead of poultry seasoning, increased the amount of garlic and chicken, and used panko instead of seasoned breadcrumbs.

It would be wonderful with a green salad on the side. We ate it with roasted asparagus!

Yield: Serves 8

For the Lasagna:

  • 15 no-boil lasagna noodles, or more, if necessary
  • 3 to 4 cups shredded rotisserie chicken meat
  • 12 ounces frozen organic peas
  • ½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup coarsely grated Swiss or Gruyere cheese
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • fresh thyme or parsley, for the topping, optional

For the Sauce:

  • 6 T butter
  • 8 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 6 T all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp Herbes de Provence
  • ¾ tsp coarse salt
  • 5 cups milk (I used a combination of 1% & 2%)
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.
  3. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. (Stir continuously to avoid burning because burnt garlic will taste bitter.)
  4. Add the flour, Herbes de Provence, and salt. Whisk and cook for 1-2 minutes.
  5. Add the milk, one cup at a time, whisking after each addition and allowing it to thicken slightly each time before adding the next cup. When the sauce is smooth and thick, remove from heat and set aside.
  6. Grease a 9×13 pan with cooking spray. (I used a ceramic pan.)
  7. Cover the bottom of the pan with (about 5) broken lasagna noodles, half of the chicken, half of the peas, ¼ cup Parmesan, ⅓ cup water, and 1 1/2 cups sauce.
  8. Repeat this layer once more.
  9. Lastly, top with a third layer of broken noodles, ⅓ cup water, 1½ cups sauce, and ½ cup Swiss cheese.
  10. Spray the underside of the foil with cooking spray. Cover the casserole with the foil and bake for 40 minutes.
  11. Remove foil, sprinkle evenly with breadcrumbs, and bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and bubbly.
  12. Sprinkle with fresh thyme or parsley, if using. Let stand 10 minutes or more before cutting and serving.

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Quick Zucchini Lasagna

More zucchini and cheese!! This quick lasagna showcases summer zucchini. The zucchini is so thinly sliced using a food processor, it doesn’t have to be pre-cooked before baking. Layering the zucchini with cheese and no-boil lasagna noodles completes the simple preparation.

This recipe was adapted from Everyday Food. I increased the garlic, used whole milk ricotta, and added onions as well as shallots to the zucchini mixture. I was a little apprehensive to use cream cheese, but I think that it helped hold the finished dish together. Easy and tasty. 🙂

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 1 T olive oil, for the onions
  • cooking oil spray, for the baking dish
  • 8 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 container (15 ounces) part-skim or whole milk ricotta cheese
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 medium zucchini (about 8 ounces each), halved lengthwise, then sliced thinly crosswise (I used a food processor 2 mm blade)
  • 2-3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup minced shallots, about 2 large
  • 1/2 of a medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 6 no-boil lasagna noodles
  • 2 ounces shredded (1/2 cup) part-skim mozzarella cheese

IMG_5010

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees on convection. Lightly oil an 8-inch square baking dish with cooking oil spray; set aside.
  2. Sauté the shallots and onion in olive oil until softened and lightly browned. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. In a medium bowl, stir together cream cheese and ricotta; season with salt and pepper.
  4. In another medium bowl, combine zucchini, garlic, sautéed onions, and oregano; season with salt and pepper, and toss to combine.
  5. Spread 1/3 zucchini mixture in prepared baking dish; top with two lasagna noodles, then 1/3 ricotta mixture. Repeat twice with remaining zucchini mixture, noodles, and ricotta mixture, finishing with the ricotta mixture.
  6. Sprinkle with mozzarella.
  7. Cover baking dish with aluminum foil; bake until bubbly and noodles are tender, 25 minutes on convection or up to 35 minutes in a standard oven.
  8. Remove foil; bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes more. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

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Easy Mushroom Lasagna

IMG_2069 This is the EASIEST lasagna recipe EVER. I had to check my recipe resource a few times (I double & triple checked!) while preparing this dish just confirm that the mushrooms did NOT have to be cooked before adding to this lasagna. The noodles didn’t have to be cooked either! I thought that the finished dish might be too saucy because of the moisture from the mushrooms, but it was perfect.

This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Todd Porter and Diane Cu. I modified the recipe to use no-boil lasagna noodles. I also added garlic and used different types of mushrooms. My son had been begging for lasagna and he was quite pleased. 🙂 It was a titch too brown but it was still absolutely delicious!!

  • olive oil, for coating baking dish
  • 9 to 12 no-boil lasagna noodles
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • zest of 1 fresh lemon
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced through a garlic press
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt, or to taste
  • fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 24 to 30 ounces tomato sauce (I used Victoria brand marinara)
  • 10 ounces button mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
  • 10 ounces cremini mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
  • 16 ounces mozzarella cheese, grated
  1. Preheat oven to 375°. Lightly coat a 2-quart baking dish with olive oil (or cooking oil spray) and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, egg, Parmigiano-Reggiano, lemon zest, garlic, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
  3. Spread a light layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of the baking dish. Lay 3 to 4 lasagna noodles lengthwise over the sauce (or however they fit best in your pan).
  4. Layer one-third of the remaining tomato sauce over the lasagna noodles and then layer half of the ricotta mixture.
  5. Layer half of the mushrooms over the ricotta and then spread one-third of the mozzarella cheese. Repeat this pattern: noodles, sauce, ricotta cheese, mushrooms and mozzarella cheese.
  6. Add a final layer of lasagna noodles and then add the remaining tomato sauce and remaining mozzarella cheese.
  7. Bake lasagna for about 30 to 45 minutes or until the top cheese is melted and golden. (Watch carefully!) 🙂
  8. Remove from oven; let cool for about 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

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