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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Flattened Chicken Thighs With Roasted Lemon Slices

My buddy is always teasing me because I never roast a whole chicken. She makes a beautiful roasted “lemon chicken” weekly for her family. Well, I don’t need to roast an entire chicken when there are dishes like this! Besides, we only want the thigh meat in my house. 🙂

This recipe was described as an “easy, super fragrant weeknight version of classic chicken under a brick,” using chicken thighs instead of a butterflied whole bird. I took it a step further by using boneless, skinless chicken thighs (my favorite), reducing the cooking time even further. (and reducing the fat!)

This dish was truly flavor-packed from the loaded garlic-herb-lemon marinade. I marinated the chicken overnight. After pan-searing under a weight, the chicken is finished by oven roasting it over lemon slices- my kind of “lemon chicken!” 🙂

This recipe was adapted from Mozza at Home by Nancy Silverton via The New York Times, contributed by Julia Moskin. We ate it with roasted potatoes, broccoli and acorn squash. Absolutely delicious.

I’m sharing my special chicken at Angie’s Fiesta Friday #159 co-hosted by Zeba @Food for the Soul and Jhuls @The Not So Creative Cook. Enjoy!

Yield: 6 to 10 servings

For the Marinade:

  • 2 lemons, rinsed
  • ¼ cup fresh thyme or oregano leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage leaves
  • 1 ½ tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 10 to 12 medium or large garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 1 teaspoon red chile flakes
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

For the Chicken:

  • 10 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1-2 tablespoons canola oil, enough to coat the bottom of the skillet
  • 2 lemons, rinsed (I used the lemons from the marinade)
  • 6 fresh sage leaves
  • fresh thyme or oregano sprigs and sage leaves, for garnish
  1. Make the marinade: Use a vegetable peeler to shave 9 large strips of peel from the lemons, taking care to cut into only the brightest yellow outer layer. Put strips in a large bowl or ziplock bag and add thyme or oregano, sage, parsley, garlic, red chile flakes and olive oil.
  2. Prepare the chicken: Put the thighs in the bag or bowl with the marinade. Turn the thighs gently to coat with the marinade. Seal the bag or cover bowl and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight. (I place the ziplock bag in a glass baking dish in case it leaks.)
  3. When ready to cook, remove thighs from marinade and place them on a baking sheet. (Reserve garlic cloves and lemon peel from the marinade; discard the liquid.)
  4. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of salt over the chicken, then turn over and sprinkle with remaining 1 teaspoon salt.
  5. Transfer the chicken thighs, “skin side” down, to a 12-inch cast-iron skillet. Put it over medium-high heat, cover with parchment paper, and weigh down the chicken with the bottom of a 10-inch cast-iron skillet. (Or, use a lighter skillet weighed down with a large full can, a brick or another heavy object.)
  6. Once chicken is sizzling loudly, reduce heat to medium and cook without moving for about 5 minutes, until brown and crisp. To check for doneness, gently lift the corner of a chicken thigh with a metal spatula. The meat will come away cleanly from the bottom of the pan when it is done. If it is still stuck, do not pull but let it cook a little longer.
  7. When thighs are done, remove the weight and lift the chicken out of the pan. Transfer the thighs, browned side up, to a plate. Pour off most of the fat from the skillet, if necessary.
  8. Meanwhile, heat oven to 425 degrees, preferably on convection roast.
  9. Cut lemons in half and squeeze gently to remove some of the juice. Cut crosswise into 1/8-inch slices and lay on paper towels to absorb more juice.
  10. Place a layer of lemon slices in the skillet. Return all the browned chicken to the skillet on top of the lemons, browned side up. Tuck reserved lemon peel and garlic cloves down between the pieces. Tuck the remaining fresh sage leaves between the pieces as well.
  11. Transfer skillet to oven for 7 to 10 minutes. To test, remove a thigh, pierce it on the flesh side with a knife, and check that the juices are clear, or until the internal temperature is 165 degrees.
  12. Remove pan from oven and let thighs rest in the pan 5 to 10 minutes.
  13. Garnish with thyme or oregano sprigs and fresh sage around the thighs and serve from the pan at the table, with roasted lemon slices and garlic cloves.

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Skillet Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Garlic & Balsamic Vinegar

A friend had recommended this recipe and I knew I was going to save it for my Thanksgiving dinner menu. I always select Brussels sprouts as one of the vegetables to serve because my mom, mother-in-law, and I love them.

It was nice to have such a simple, and relatively healthy, side dish as part of the feast as well. One side dish should be void of cheese and/or cream! 😉 I also served roasted rainbow carrots. Two clean and fresh side dishes.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Mark Bittman. I doubled the recipe, using an entire stalk, and was only able to roast half in the skillet; I roasted the remainder on a rimmed baking sheet. I also decreased the balsamic vinegar.

  • 1 Brussels sprout stalk (about a 2 pints or 2 pounds)
  • 8 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, to coat bottom of pan
  • 10 cloves garlic, peeled
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, to taste
  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees, preferably on convection roast.
  2. Trim Brussels sprouts off the stalk, and slice each large sprout in half top to bottom.
  3. Heat half of the oil in cast-iron pan over medium-high heat until it shimmers; put sprouts cut side down in one layer in pan. Put in garlic, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  4. Cook, undisturbed, until sprouts begin to brown on bottom, and transfer to oven.
  5. Roast, shaking pan every 5 minutes, until sprouts are quite brown and tender, about 10 to 20 minutes. Coat remaining sprouts with olive oil, salt and pepper and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet in oven with the skillet.
  6. Taste, and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Combine all roasted sprouts in the skillet.
  7. Stir in balsamic vinegar, and serve hot or warm.

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Pan-Roasted Chicken with Harissa Chickpeas

Yes, more harissa! I love the pop of flavor and heat it provides. The heat in this dish can easily be adjusted to taste by modifying the amount of harissa in the sauce. This finished dish definitely had quite a spicy kick.

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appetit, contributed by Dawn Perry. I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs and adjusted the cooking times accordingly. I also doubled the garlic and served it over brown rice. We used sour cream or Greek yogurt to temper the heat of the finished dish.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

Total Time: about 45 minutes

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 10 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 3 pounds)
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 15-oz. cans chickpeas, rinsed
  • 2 to 4 T harissa paste, adjust to taste (I used Trader Joe’s)
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • lemon wedges, for serving
  • brown Basmati rice, for serving
  • sour cream or Greek yogurt, for serving, as desired
  1. Preheat oven to 425°, preferably on convection.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil, for the first batch, in a large ovenproof skillet over medium to medium-high heat.
  3. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Working in 2 batches, cook until browned, about 4 minutes on the first side and 3 minutes on the second side; add a second tablespoon of oil to the pan prior to the second batch. Transfer to a plate.
  4. Add onion and garlic to the pan drippings; cook, stirring often, until softened, about 3 minutes.
  5. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, until beginning to darken, about 1 minute.
  6. Add chickpeas, harissa, and broth; bring to a simmer.
  7. Nestle chicken in chickpeas; transfer skillet to oven.
  8. Roast until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes.
  9. Top with parsley and serve with lemon wedges for squeezing over.

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If you like this you may also like:

Roasted Squash with Cherry Tomatoes & Eggs

Similar to my last post, this is another lovely breakfast, lunch, or dinner dish. A nice vegetarian meal! I (almost) always make roasted acorn squash with maple syrup, so this was also a nice change of pace. The chile paste made it amazing.

This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living. I used my CSA acorn squash and festival sweet dumpling squash and added roasted potatoes. We ate it for dinner with a green salad on the side.

I’m sharing this dish at Angie’s Fiesta Friday #139, co-hosted by Antonia @ Zoale and Sandhya @ Indfused. Enjoy!

  • 2 small acorn squashes (up to 1 1/2 pounds each)
  • 2-3 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, plus 6 sprigs
  • 2 cups (12 oz) mixed cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tsp sambal oelek (or other chile paste), plus more for serving
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 pound fingerling potatoes, halved crosswise
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees, preferably set to convection roast, with racks in the center, upper, and lower thirds of the oven.
  2. Line 3 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
  3. Toss potatoes with olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  4. Rub squashes all over with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Prick inside surface all over with a fork. Season with salt and thyme leaves.
  5. Place squash cut side down over thyme sprigs on a prepared baking sheet. Place on upper rack of oven and roast for 10 minutes.
  6. Along with the squash, add potatoes to oven on the lower rack. Roast for 10 minutes as well.
  7. Meanwhile, toss the tomatoes in the remaining tablespoon of oil; season with salt and pepper. Spread on the third baking sheet in a single layer.
  8. After the initial 10 minutes of roasting is complete, add the tomatoes to the oven on the center oven rack and roast about 20 to 25 minutes more, or until tomatoes are beginning to collapse. The squash should be tender and the cut surface of the potatoes lightly brown.
  9. Remove tomatoes and potatoes from the oven. Set aside, in a warming drawer, if possible.
  10. Turn the squashes cut side up and roast 5 minutes more.
  11. Spoon 1/2 teaspoon chile paste into each hollow, then crack an egg into each. Season with salt.
  12. Return to oven and bake until whites are set but still a bit wobbly and yolks are soft, about 10 minutes.
  13. Let stand for 3 minutes. Then, serve garnished with roasted tomatoes, more chile paste, salt and pepper with roasted potatoes on the side.

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Salmon with Salsa Fresca

Similar to my summer vegetable gratin post, this dish also incorporates a complete “CSA box” – plus salmon. It was a light and fresh meal. The salsa was absolutely delicious. I was inspired to make it when I received all of these beautiful tomatoes in my box.

We ate it with roasted beets and red potatoes, also from my CSA box, of course. 🙂

This dish was adapted from the New York Times, contributed by Mark Bittman. I used on half of a small red onion instead of a white onion, my mixed tomatoes from my CSA share, a home-grown jalapeño, and the juice of 1 lime in the salsa. Bittman notes that grilled, broiled, roasted, or even steamed salmon (or other types of fish such as halibut or swordfish) would work equally well.

This dish is so colorful it might just be dinner party worthy too. Ready in 30 minutes makes it extra-fabulous.

Yield: 3-4 servings

  • 2 large fresh ripe tomatoes, or 3 or 4 ripe plum tomatoes, or a pint of mixed cherry tomatoes, diced (and cored if large)
  • ½ large white or red onion, peeled and minced
  • ¼ habanero or 1/2 jalapeño chili, stemmed, seeded and minced, or to taste
  • ½ cup roughly chopped cilantro or flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • juice of 1 or 2 limes, to taste
  • freshly ground pepper and coarse salt to taste
  • 1 salmon fillet, about 1 1/2 pounds, preferably with skin on (can substitute halibut or swordfish)
  • 2 tablespoons neutral oil, like corn or canola
  1. Start a charcoal or gas grill; fire should be moderately hot and grill rack about 4 inches from heat source. Or, heat oven to 500 degrees.
  2. Chop tomatoes and combine them in a bowl with onion, chili, cilantro, lime juice and some salt. Set aside. (Salsa can be made up to one hour ahead of time.)
  3. Sprinkle fish with salt and pepper. If grilling, rub fish with a little oil as well; put it on grill, skin side down, and let it sit for 4 to 5 minutes, then turn once (don’t worry if part of skin sticks to grill). Cook for about 3 minutes more, until medium-rare.
    If roasting, heat a large nonstick skillet over high heat for a minute. Add oil and, a few seconds later, salmon, skin side up. Sear for a minute, then transfer to oven and roast until medium-rare, about 10 minutes.
  4. Allow to rest for a minute or so, then remove skin, if desired. Turn over and serve, topped with salsa or passing salsa at the table.

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Maple Dijon Roasted Rainbow Carrots

When I saw this recipe on Brooklyn Homemaker right before Thanksgiving, I immediately added it to my menu. I loved the flavors and rainbow carrots are just irresistible. Thank goodness some of my fellow bloggers post wonderful side dishes before a holiday! Maybe I’ll do that someday. 😉

Yield: Serves 6

  • 2 lbs rainbow carrots
  • 4 T unsalted butter
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup, preferably dark amber
  • 1 T dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp whole grain mustard
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3 to 4 T chopped flat leaf parsley, optional
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F on convection roast.
  2. Wash, dry, and peel carrots and place in a shallow dish long and wide enough to fit them all. (I used a parchment lined (rimmed) baking sheet.)
  3. Add butter and thyme to a small saucepan and heat over a medium flame to melt butter. Continue to warm the butter for 1 to 2 minutes. The butter should take on a green-ish tint from the thyme leaves.
  4. Remove from heat and cool for a few minutes.
  5. In a small bowl combine maple syrup, mustards, nutmeg, and salt and pepper.
  6. Whisk in butter until smooth and well combined.
  7. Pour the butter/syrup mixture over the carrots and toss to coat.
  8. Arrange the carrots on a parchment lined baking sheet, and use a spatula to scrape any remaining butter/syrup mixture over them. You may want to use two sheets of parchment to make sure the whole pan is completely covered.
  9. Roast until tender and brown, for about 35 minutes or up to 1 hour, using tongs to turn each carrot about 20 minutes in. Watch carefully to ensure that the sugar in the maple syrup doesn’t burn onto the parchment.
  10. Top with chopped parsley or additional fresh thyme before serving.

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