Tuesday, August 30, 2011
I know what you're thinking, "Lasagna with no noodles? What? Whatchoo talking 'bout?" This actually is a great recipe sans the pasta. Now this is coming from a carboholic, so trust me on this one. Whether you're a vegetarian, going carb free or looking for a side dish to go along with your protein, this is it! (Except if you don't like eggplant, like hubby, then this one isn't for you)
I found this recipe in the library book I checked out this weekend, REAL SIMPLE dinner tonight: done! I must say, the recipes in the book are really holding true to it's title. I was a little skeptical since many recipes claim to be easy, but they are not. Take Rachael Ray for instance. She claims on her show that her recipes only take 30 minutes. 30 minute meals they are not. There are numerous steps that take awhile for the beginner cook and some of the dishes she makes are not a good blend of flavors. It's obvious she's been making new recipes for over ten years now and as she tries to concoct new ideas, they make no sense. Like when she made chutney with spinach instead of cilantro. That just tasted odd. Ok, I'm going on a tangent, and getting too critical a la Tony Bourdain. (If Padma Lakshmi and Tom Colicchio call him Tony, why can't I?) Ok, ok back to the recipe
I changed the sauce to the recipe a bit. I also omitted the egg. I never use egg in lasagna, I find that the ricotta and shredded cheese stick together well and I don't like having an eggy taste in my food. Additionally, I changed the tomato/garlic recipe. I also halved the recipe since it served four and only me and Bambino were going to consume the dish.
Click here for the original recipe
4 Roma tomatoes
2 cloves garlic (The dish was very garlicy, so reduce if you don't care for an abundance of garlic. The garlic is not sauteed in a pan, but cooked in the sauce in the oven. I found it to have somewhat of a raw garlic taste after cooked)
1 cup ricotta cheese (I used fat free and thought it came out well)
1 cup shredded mozzarella plus an extra sprinkle for the top (I used low fat, 2% milk cheese)
1/2 cup fresh basil (I did not use because I have not been to my mother's garden recently and I forgot to buy some at the store)
salt and black pepper
1. Heat broiler (mine had a Hi-yes it is spelled like this- and Low setting. I put it at Hi)
2. In a food processor, puree the tomatoes, garlic, 1 tablespoon of oil and 1/4 teaspoon of salt and pepper.
3. Slice the eggplant LENGTHWISE (I capitalize this because I did not pay attention to the directions and cut circles of eggplant. I was confused on how this was supposed to mirror lasagna noodles, now I understand!) Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper on both sides. Broil until charred and tender. It took about 6-7 minutes per side. Keep an eye on the oven. It took twice the time than said in the original recipe.
4. Meanwhile, mix together ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese and basil.
5. Spray the bottom of an 8 inch square baking dish with PAM cooking spray. Pour 1/3 of sauce on bottom of dish. Layer with eggplant to cover. Spread cheese mixture on top of eggplant. Pour sauce. Repeat with another layer of egg plant, ricotta and sauce. Top with remaining eggplant and sauce. Sprinkle extra mozzarella on top. (The amount of layers you have may vary, depending on how many slices you get out of your eggplant.
6. Reduce oven to 400 degrees. Bake 15-20 minutes until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbling.
Amateur Cooking Difficulty Scale: 4
The most difficult part of cooking this was Bambino wanting to be a part of the process. So if I were alone when making this it would probably get a 3, or maybe even a 2!
I will definitely make this dish again. Bambino ate with baby bowties. I mashed the sauce, cheese and eggplant together so it made a sauce like mixture for her pasta. I'm not sure what she liked more, the end result or sitting on the counter eating shredded cheese while I was layering the eggplant!
Update (9/7/11): I made this dish again, but cut the eggplant lengthwise, it's so much prettier! And it still tastes as good the second time around!
What do you think, would you eat this as a full meal, add pasta to the side or make it as a side dish to a protein?