25 September 2012

Cooking the Garden: Eggplant Lasagna

I've been dying to find a way to use the eggplant that I grew.  I tried it fried and it was ok, but I wanted something more creative.  So I did some research and found a few different recipes for Eggplant Lasagna.  That is, lasagna with sliced eggplant that replaces the noodles.  I mostly used the recipe from About.com when I was making it but I pulled inspiration from this recipe on Country Living.  

The Finished Product

Since I only had two small eggplants I decided to make an experimental lasagna in a loaf pan, just in case it turned out terrible.  I would definitely recommend cutting your slices about an 1/8 an inch thick.  I sliced mine as thin as possible to get more slices but they just got overcooked in the over so they weren't very noodle-like in consistency.  I would also recommend peeling them, the skin was quite leathery after being cooked twice.  Also be sure to either blacken (as suggested in Country Living) or add the peppers to the mushroom saute.  I tried them raw straight into the lasagna thinking it would add a little more texture, but they didn't get cooked enough and it left a crunch that you don't really want in there. The mushrooms are a must, they were perfect in the dish and I loved them.  Most importantly...don't get impatient like I did and pull your lasagna early.  The longer it all bakes together the more the cheese will melt in between layers and it will really taste all linked together rather than just a bunch of things thrown in the pan.  

Best part of this dish: its vegan and its cheap!  I use cottage cheese instead of ricotta (just like Mom always did), shredded mozzarella, and grated Parmesan we already have.  The peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, and oregano were all grown in my garden.  And I used leftover pasta sauce from spaghetti night.   

Only negative: It's pretty time consuming.  Slicing the eggplant, chopping peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, and then assembly and waiting for more time while the whole thing cooks (I chopped everything else while the eggplant roasted).  Not something to do on the day you get home late!  

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