Monday, October 31, 2011
Spinach and Eggplant Lasagna
Lasagna was one of the first dishes I started making after getting married and meandering into the world of domestication. No, I did not jump into the deep end, I slowly walked into the shallow end, using precooked chicken in dishes such as pasta and enchiladas, opening cans for sauces and dousing everything in shredded cheese since that is what Hubby liked. You may be saying that lasagna isn't the easiest dish for a beginner cook (or maybe you are?), but with the invention of oven ready lasagna noodles and jarred marinara sauce, it really is!
So when I made lasagna I always made two versions, one with ground turkey meat for hubby and one with all the vegetables in my vegetable bin for me. Bambino gets a slice of both to consume. She loves pasta and when you add ricotta cheese to it, she really loves it!
So this past week I was in need of a vegetarian dish to make and realized I hadn't made lasagna in awhile and was in the mood for it. I knew Bambino would enjoy it and had a meal planned for Hubby so off to the store I was to purchase the ingredients for a veggie lasagna. Now, normally I throw in whatever vegetables I have around, but this time I went in with the plan to specifically use spinach and eggplant, two of my favorite vegetables to eat with pasta.
Thanks to the oven ready lasagna noodles, the dish was quick, easy and yummy! I started making the dish at 4 and it was cooled and out of the oven by 5, ready for Bambino's dinner!
No link to an original recipe, because I somewhat follow the format listed on the back of the pasta box.
28 oz marinara sauce (approximately 1 jar)
1 Japanese eggplant, sliced
1 1/2 cups spinach packed
1 package oven ready pasta (I use Skinner brand)
1 1/2 cup ricotta cheese (I use fat free)
1 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (I use 2% milk cheese)
1. In a large pot saute Japanese eggplant with 2 tablespoons olive oil until softened. Add spinach and cook until wilted. Add marinara sauce and bring to a boil. Simmer and cover for 10 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix rictotta cheese and 1 1/2 cups of shredded mozzarella together (Traditionally you also mix with egg, but I don't like the taste of egg so I do not add it. It makes it a bit more difficult to spread, but it's doable). Grease a square baking sheet. Spread marinara sauce on the bottom of the baking dish. Place 2 lasagna sheets side by side in the pan. Spread cheese mixture. Spread marinara sauce on top. Then repeat again with pasta, cheese and sauce.
3. After three layers of pasta (or more if you prefer), spread remaining marinara sauce and sprinkle 1/4 cup shredded cheese.
4. Cover with foil and bake in oven for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 10-15 minutes.
5. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.
Amateur Cooking Difficulty Scale: 4
It may seem like there are a lot of steps, but it's really not very difficult at all. You can add any vegetable that you want to it. Also, you can make the sauce a day in advance and then put together the lasagna the next day.
This is a great dish you can make, freeze and have it ready for when you're in a pinch. Whenever I'm in an Italian mood but don't want the same old pasta, I always make lasagna. It's good and easy. Go make it.