Sunday, September 22, 2013

Eggplant-Vegetable Lasagna



Aren't lasagna's enough work already? Does a lasagna really need breaded and fried eggplant slices in it? There's only one way to find out how that would add to the texture overall. Here we go, my third meatless lasagna ever. Oh, while the recipe called for a 14.4-oz package of frozen pepper stir-fry, I rolled with a 12-oz bag of frozen onion and pepper blend.

Eggplant-Vegetable Lasagna
adapted from Cooking Club
click to print

4 to 6 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 large onion, chopped (1 1/2 cups)
1 c chopped celery
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 large tomato, chopped (1 1/2 cups)
1 (14.4-oz.) pkg. frozen pepper stir-fry, thawed
1 (2-oz.) can anchovies, drained, chopped
1 c panko
1/2 c all-purpose flour
3 eggs, divided
1 (1-lb.) eggplant, unpeeled, sliced crosswise (3/8 inch)
9-12 lasagna noodles
1 (15-oz.) container ricotta cheese
1 (9-oz.) pkg. frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeezed dry
3 (14-oz.) jars pizza sauce
4 c shredded mozzarella cheese

Heat large skillet over medium heat until hot. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil; heat until hot.


Add onion and celery; cook 5 to 8 minutes or until soft, stirring occasionally.


Add garlic; cook and stir 30 seconds or until fragrant.


Add tomato, bell peppers and anchovies; cook 3 minutes or until softened, stirring frequently.


Remove vegetables.


Place panko in shallow bowl; place flour in second shallow bowl. Whisk 2 of the eggs in third shallow bowl.


Dip eggplant slices in flour to coat, shaking off excess. Dip in eggs, then in panko to coat completely.


Place on large foil-lined baking sheet.


Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until hot.

Cook eggplant in batches 3 minutes or until browned, turning once and adding more oil as necessary. Drain on paper towels.


Heat oven to 375ºF. Coat 13x9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish with cooking spray.


Prepare lasagna noodles; drain.

Combine ricotta cheese with remaining egg in medium bowl.


Arrange 3 of the lasagna noodles in bottom of baking dish; top with 1/2 each of the ricotta mixture, eggplant, spinach and tomato mixture. Spread with 1/3 of the pizza sauce and sprinkle with 1/3 of the mozzarella cheese.

Do you ever notice that lasagna noodles don't fit the length of a 9x13" dish? For each noodle layer, I lay down three noodles and break fourth noodle into pieces to fit the gaps.

Repeat.


Top with remaining noodles, pizza sauce and mozzarella cheese.


Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly around edges.


Let stand at least 10 minutes before serving.



This looked so freakin' good when it came out of the oven. It's probably the tallest/thickest lasagna I've ever seen! After letting the lasagna stand an hour (I was worried 10 minutes wouldn't be enough time for the lasagna portions to stay stacked), I cut into it and served myself a twelfth. The layers held together very nicely, and maybe the fried eggplant helped preserve structural integrity!

Three jars of pizza sauce turned to be the right amount even though it sounds like overkill. Every bite was slightly sweetened and perfectly moistened by the sauce. I liked the Delallo sauce in this a lot. And still with all that sauce and vegetables, there wasn't a pool of water at the bottom of the baking dish, also a huge plus.

The vegetables tasted great and I couldn't tell that the eggplant was fried. I couldn't tell there were anchovies in there either. I'd completely forgotten all about them, so maybe their role is just to add salt. I dunno. Don't let the anchovies freak you out. This is a recipe worth doing again.

Cost:
  • olive oil: $0.36
  • onion: $0.41
  • celery: $0.17
  • garlic cloves: $0.20
  • tomato: $1.69
  • frozen peppers and onion: $1
  • anchovies: $1.69
  • panko: $0.38
  • all-purpose flour: $0.04
  • eggs: $0.82
  • eggplant: $1.49
  • lasagna noodles: $1.79
  • ricotta cheese: $3.99
  • frozen chopped spinach: $1
  • pizza sauce: $6.57
  • mozzarella cheese: $4.99
$26.59 or about $2.22 for each of 12 surprisingly filling servings.

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