Eggplant Lasagna

You may not be able to tell the difference but this lasagna boasts about half the calories, has more fibre and less sodium
Swap out the pasta sheets in this lasagna. You may not be able to tell the difference but it boasts about half the calories, has more fibre and less sodium

Eggplant is a particularly versatile food. It’s found in Chinese, Indian, Italian, and Middle Eastern foods. As a purple food it contains antioxidants with heart health wellness implications similar to blueberries.

Eggplant is a low calorie, almost sodium free food source that can help in weight control and weight loss. A cup of eggplant contains only 35 calories yet is a good source of fibre which helps you feel full while also helping combat constipation and the formation of hemorrhoids.

The Veteran Move here is to be careful to approach this recipe in stages. Prepare the eggplant slices well in advance. Particularly, try to draw out all the moisture possible before grilling them then set them aside.

I also don’t start the tomato sauce or the cheese sauce until I have the eggplant slices ready. Then I can quickly prepare the two sauces in tandem.

Once the eggplant and the sauces are ready I assemble the final dish. This is a little trickier and has more involved prep than I usually feature. It’s well worth it if you love lasagna but have calorie or sodium restrictions on your diet.

Collect up all your ingredients before you start prepping this dish
Collect up all your ingredients before you start prepping this dish

INGREDIENTS

• 2 large eggplants
• 1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
• olive oil, to taste • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
• 5 cloves garlic, minced
• ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
• 28 oz crushed tomatoes, 2 can (795 g ea)*
• 6 leaves fresh basil, thinly sliced, plus more for garnish
• 1 medium sized Parmesan rind
• 1 large egg
• 15 oz ricotta cheese, 1 container (425 g)
• 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided (200 g)
• 1 cup grated parmesan cheese, divided (110 g)
• 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning

*can you find san Marzano canned tomatoes? Many consider them to be the best plum tomatoes to use when making Italian sauce. They are grown near Naples at the base of Mount Vesuvius and I have to admit… I really like them!

1 PREPARE EGGPLANT FIRST

Cut off the ends of the eggplant, then slice lengthwise about ⅛-inch (3-mm) thick
Cut off the ends of the eggplant, then slice lengthwise about ⅛-inch (3-mm) thick
 Sprinkle the eggplant slices with sea salt on both sides and let sit for 10 minutes to draw out moisture. Pat dry with paper towels to remove excess liquid
Sprinkle the eggplant slices with sea salt on both sides and let sit for 10 minutes to draw out moisture. Pat dry with paper towels to remove excess liquid.
Lightly grease a griddle pan with olive oil and heat over medium heat. Grill the eggplant slices for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until grill marks are visible.
Lightly grease a griddle pan with olive oil and heat over medium heat. Grill the eggplant slices for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until grill marks are visible.
Remove from the pan and set aside.

2 PREPARE TOMATO AND CHEESE SAUCES

 Chop the onion and garlic in advance and have them ready to add.
Chop the onion and garlic in advance and have them ready to add.
In a medium saucepan, heat a drizzle of olive oil over medium-low heat, then add the garlic and red pepper flakes.
Sauté for about 3 minutes, until the garlic is fragrant but not browned.
Chop the fresh basil ahead of time and have it ready to add at the appropriate time
Chop the fresh basil ahead of time and have it ready to add at the appropriate time
Add the crushed tomatoes and 1 teaspoon of salt, stirring well to incorporate the garlic and red pepper.
Add the crushed tomatoes and 1 teaspoon of salt, stirring well to incorporate the garlic and red pepper. Add the basil and a Parmesan rind and stir to combine. Simmer for 10 minutes, reducing the heat if the sauce begins to bubble too much.
Remove from the heat and set aside.
Gather together and measure out the ricotta, mozzarella, egg and Parmesan. Have them ready to add at the appropriate time
Gather together and measure out the ricotta, mozzarella, egg and Parmesan. Have them ready to add at the appropriate time
In a medium bowl, beat the egg, then add the ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan, and the Italian seasoning. Mix well to combine.
In a medium bowl, beat the egg, then add the ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan, and the Italian seasoning. Mix well to combine.

3 ASSEMBLE THE LASAGNA

 In a 9x13-inch (23x33-cm) baking dish, add enough sauce to cover the bottom of the dish and spread in an even layer. Add a layer of eggplant slices
In a 9×13-inch (23×33-cm) baking dish, add enough sauce to cover the bottom of the dish and spread in an even layer. Add a layer of eggplant slices, covering the bottom of the dish completely. I try to make sure the eggplant slices overlap slightly.
Add a layer of the ricotta mixture and spread in a thin, even layer
Add a layer of the ricotta mixture and spread in a thin, even layer
Repeat layers with the remaining ingredients
Repeat with the remaining ingredients…
Finish it off with a layer of sauce
… finishing with a layer of sauce
Bake for 35-45 minutes, until cheese is fully melted. Turn the broiler on high and broil for 5 minutes, or until the cheese on top is browned and bubbly.
Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan on top.
Bake for 35-45 minutes, until cheese is fully melted. Turn the broiler on high and broil for 5 minutes, or until the cheese on top is browned and bubbly.
let rest for 15-20 minutes before serving to give the lasagna time to set. 
This is a critical step!
Remove the lasagna from the oven and…
let rest for 15-20 minutes before serving to give the lasagna time to set.
This is a critical step!

This dish goes great with a Caesar salad. I like to serve each slice with a little sprinkle of fresh basil!

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