Eggplant Lasagna

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Alex and I had an argument when I made this dish.  He said that I can’t call this dish Eggplant Lasagna because it doesn’t include lasagna noodles. I argued that because the dish includes the same basic ingredients and layering technique it can be called lasagna, because the eggplant takes the place of the pasta.

In the end, we agreed it didn’t matter because the dish was delicious.  Thanks Simply…Gluten-Free for the recipe!

Eggplant (no pasta) Lasagna

adapted slightly from “Simply…Gluten-Free”

feeds 4-6 depending on appetite

2 medium sized eggplants

3/4 pound italian sausage, casing removed

1/2 jar of tomato sauce

1/2 yellow onion, chopped

5 cloves garlic, chopped

10 ounces ricotta (3/4 container)

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese

1 egg

Seasoning: 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil, salt, pepper, oregano (to taste)

olive oil

For the first step, set aside 40 minutes to prep the eggplant.  Peel the eggplants,  chop off the ends and slice them into 1/4 inch rounds.  Eggplant has a bad reputation for being oily, because of its absorbent nature.  To counter-act this and remove any bitterness in the vegetable, you must salt it to draw out the water.  Place your slices in a colander in the sink and generously douse them with salt.  Wait at least 30 minutes, then rinse the eggplants of the salt and remove any excess water by squeezing the slices.  During these 30 minutes, you can do prep work like chopping the onions, garlic, basil, and grating the cheese.

Preheat the oven to broil and line two baking sheets with aluminum foil.  You will broil the eggplant before cooking it in the baking dish later.  Using a 1/4 cup of olive oil, make a seasoning-oil mixture for brushing over your eggplant slices.  I used salt, pepper, and oregano.  Brush your eggplant slices and broil each side for 3 minutes.

While they are cooking,  make your cheese mixture.  Combine the ricotta, egg, parmesan, and 1/4 cup of chopped basil until smooth in a mixing bowl.  Add a few shakes of salt and pepper.  Set the bowl aside.

When the eggplant is done, set it aside, and preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Heat up a large skillet with some oil and crumble your sausage into it.  Fry it up until cooked through and then add the onions and garlic.  Cook them until soft and fragrant and then add your tomato sauce and remaining 1/4 cup basil.  If the tomato sauce and basil isn’t flavorful enough, add some salt and pepper and other Italian seasonings.

Now it’s time to layer!  Spread some of your leftover tomato sauce on the bottom of a 8×8 pan (I used my trusty Pyrex), this prevents the eggplant from sticking to the bottom.   Put down your first layer of eggplant, using about half.  Add half of the ricotta mixture, then half of the sausage mixture on top of that.  Repeat with the remainder of your ingredients.  After the last layer of sausage mixture, sprinkle the grated mozzarella evenly over the top.  Bake the lasagna for 45 minutes, or until the cheese is browned and the layers are bubbling.  Cut into squares and serve!

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