Saturday, October 27, 2012

Eggplant Lasagna

This recipe will make you miss eggplant. Some elements were borrowed from Cooks Illustrated.   Some weren't.  

Very end of summer Lasagna.  No Joke - this is so good - by far the best lasagna I've made.

for Tomato Sauce:
28 oz diced tomatoes- did you can em while you had em? (crush em up a little)
1/4 cup finely chopped basil 
2 tablespoons Olive oil
3-4 garllic cloves minced
pinch of red pepper flakes 

For Cream sauce:
1 cup cottage cheese (that's right y'all! no ricotta up in here)
1 cup heavy cream (I used half and half, in a half hearted attempt to deal with my belly)
2 cups grated parmesan (do yourself a solid and get it pre-grated)
3 garlic cloves (minced again)
1 tsp cornstarch
pinch of salt and pepper.

For Filling:  
about a pound and a half of all the eggplant you've been saving in the back of your refrigerator.  (I used a bunch of different types for fun).  Peel and dice into 1/2 inch pieces.
2 large zucchini, diced like the eggplant
an equal amount of summer squash, diced once more.
olive oil
5 garlic cloves, minced
thyme (fresh if you got it, not so fresh if you don't)
about 12 ounces of spinach (I threw an extra couple ounces of sorrel in there too, because it was in the box).
1/2 cup kalamata olives minced
No Boil Lasagna noodles
3 cups mozzerella cheese shredded

Fresh basil for garnish

OK - this is a little involved, but trust me, it's worth it.

First - whisk the ingredients for the two sauces into two separate bowls - let them talk to each other privately on the side til you need them.

Second - Turn your oven on to 375.  

Third - Deal with the eggplant - it's too wet and porous for filling, so you have to doctor it.  Toss it in a big bowl with some salt (about a tsp or so).  Then put some paper towels on a plate and put enough eggplant on so it makes one layer.  Microwave this for about 10 minutes, tossing once in between, until eggplant is dry and a little shriveled like George Burns.  Repeat until all eggplant is done, then toss with Zucchini and summer squash in a big bowl.  

Fourth - combine your garlic, oil and thyme in a small bowl and whisk together.   Now you're gonna cook that stuff.  Heat a couple tbsp of olive oil in a pan over medium high heat, add half of eggplant mixture and saute until browned - about 7 minutes. Then make a space in the middle of the pan for half of the garlic/thyme infused oil.  Smash it around in the center for about 30 seconds, then stir together with veggies.  Move to a bowl, and repeat with the other half of the ingredients.  

Fifth - Put another tbsp of oil in the now-empty pan, and add your spinach (and sorrel, if you're me).  cook until wilted, then mix in with veggies. (if spinach is really wet, you might want to drain it for a couple minutes on some paper towels).

Sixth - Butter up your big casserole dish.  Spread a cup of the tomato sauce over the bottom of the dish and arrange four lasagna sheets over the top of that.  Then put half your veggies on top of the noodles, followed by half the olives. Next, layer half of the white sauce, followed by a cup of mozzerella.  Now that we're having fun layering, repeat with noodles, another cup of red sauce, the other half of veggies, olives,  white sauce, and another cup of cheese.  One more layer of noodles - dump the rest of your tomato sauce on top and finish with the last cup of mozzerella.  aw shucks, throw some of your pre-grated parmesan on there too.  

seventh - cover dish with aluminum foil that you've sprayed with some non-stick stuff and put it in the oven for about 35 minutes.  Take off the foil and return to oven for another 5-10 to get the cheese browned on top and bubbly.  Let that bad boy sit for about 10-20 minutes before you eat, then go to town!  

This is worth every second of prep and way more.  There's something about the no-cook tomato sauce and white sauce that makes this lasagna bright and makes the flavors super deep. Trust me, I'm a stand-up guy.

Posted by Mister Gardner

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