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Eggplant Lasagna

A delicious and nutritious lasagna recipe that has a layer of sliced eggplant for extra nutrition also offers some flexibility in ingredients, as well as a quick and easy tomato sauce.  Toasted pine nuts and fennel seed add a nutty flavor and a crunchy texture. A splash of vanilla enhances delicate flavors in a cheese dish.

Meat can be added if you like; diced ham or smoked chicken, or frozen seafood would all work well.

Eggplant Lasagna

9 lasagna noodles

1 tin tomato soup, Heinz or Aylmer

¼ cup salsa

1 clove garlic, minced

1 splash red wine or balsamic vinegar

1 small eggplant

1 cup shredded Italian blend cheeses

1 ½ cups low-fat cottage cheese or ricotta

½ tsp vanilla extract

½ cup sliced mushrooms

1/3 cup of minced onion

¼ cup black olives, torn

2 tbls pine nuts, toasted

1 tbls fennel seed, toasted

1 tbls dried oregano

½ tsp dried basil

1 tsp cracked black pepper

herb flavored olive oil, basil and/or rosemary

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Boil a large stock pot with water and cook the lasagna noodles for 5 minutes.  Drain and set aside.

 

In a small bowl, whisk the tomato soup with the fresh garlic, red wine, salsa, and herbs.  Set aside.

 

Wash the eggplant and slice length-wise into half-inch thickness.  Drizzle with a small amount of olive oil that has been flavored with fresh herbs, if you have it.  

 

Break the olives into small pieces and slice the mushrooms, which may also be drizzled with flavored olive oil. 

If using cottage cheese, puré it until smooth.  Add the vanilla to the cottage cheese or the ricotta.

Brush an 8x12” microwavable lasagna pan or cake pan with more of the olive oil and spread a thin layer of sauce over the bottom.  Layer 3 noodles side by side and spread them with another thin layer of sauce.  Sprinkle with roughly half of the onion, olives, pine nuts, and mushrooms.  Top with a small amount of the shredded cheese.  

Place another 3 noodles in the pan and spread the smooth cheese (ricotta or cottage) evenly over the noodles.  Arrange the sliced eggplant as uniformly as possible to form a layer and fill any gaps with a little cheese.  Spread tomato sauce over the eggplant.

The final layer of 3 noodles should be spread with more sauce and sprinkled with the remaining mushrooms, onions, pine nuts, and olives, leaving a few extra pine nuts for garnish.  Top this with ample shredded cheese, remaining pine nuts, and cracked pepper.

 

Cover the pan loosely with another pan or plate and cook in the microwave for 5 minutes on high and 40 minutes on low setting.  Serve with red or white wine, or beer.

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