Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easy Eggplant Parmasagna

I love lasagna, but I don't always love the high calorie noodles. Well, ok I do, but my body does not. So I've decided to share with you a lovely variation, which could easily become vegetarian as well!

If cooking for 2-3 peeps, start off with a medium eggplant. Look for a dark purple fruit without any bruises or brown spots. If you are lucky to have a farmers market with all kinds of varieties, I love using white and light purple speckled eggplants. Now, I always peel mine, its not a requirement, but larger eggplants usually have tougher skin. Totally up to you.

Next, I slice mine thin but not TOO thin, they break down when they cook. You can cut them in rounds or in noodle size slices. This time I did half noodle size slices (I don't know why the half!), salted them and let some of the juice ooze out. Ew, sounds pretty gross ha, but it's not. Sometimes the juice that comes out is a little bitter, that is what they say on  tv but never experienced it myself, but I do it anyways sometimes to be bad ass!

So you'll want a good tomato sauce, this time around I used some from my mom that she gave to me last week, if you are in a hurry or just don't want to make your own sauce, then jarred is...acceptable (hey I do it too sometimes!)

1 Medium eggplant, peeled and sliced
1.5 cups ricotta
1/2 lbs hot italian sausage or beef or turkey or all three!
Couple handfuls of mozzarella and cheddar cheeses, shredded
Some shakes of parmesan
2 tsp dried basil
1 egg
2-3 tbsp bread crumb
1 tbsp sugar
Red wine
Olive oil

Depending on your frying pans, mine stick a lot, so I use a non stick pan for frying the eggplant. I use about a table spoon per full pan of eggplant, so fit as many slices as you can, and brown on medium heat, once they are cooked set aside. If you like, you could coat your slices in bread crumb. Its delicious but takes more time and makes more of a mess, you can skip it!

Cook the sausage/beef and drain off some of the fat. Here is my little secret that I am now sharing with the world. At this point, I always add a generous splash of red wine and and a couple tablespoons of bread crumb. The breadcrumb soaks up all of the wine and meat flavors and then mixes throughout the meat. Trust me, the flavors are ammmaazzzing. Oh also, throw in some of the parmesan cheese here too.

Ricotta time! So, I always add some flavors to my ricotta. The reason that you love my lasagna (those that have had it) is because of this and the meat tip above. So add, the sugar, dried basil and more parmesan cheese, mix and taste! Should be slightly sweet, not like cannoli sweet. Now add the egg and mix, this will bind the cheese together when it cooks.

Looks like Poo tastes like heaven
Use a small glass baking dish for this one. Ladle some sauce on the bottom of the dish, just enough to prevent sticking and allowing the eggplant to cook more. Next, layer on the eggplant, you don't have to cover every inch of the pan, I often have large gaps that get filled in with something else. You'll see. Plop on the ricotta, don't spread it, it will spread itself. Maybe about half of it now, and save the other half for the next layer. Sprinkle the meat mixture, a little more sauce and some of the shredded cheese.

Keep layering until you end with eggplant on top. Top that with sauce and pop it into the oven, I would say about 375F for 40 minutes, sound good? The last 10 minutes you can add more cheese to the top and let it brown.

Now, you can totally use lasagna noodles, this is what I do every christmas when my lasagna is requested, except I make a 15 lb baby which requires much reinforcement (multiple disposable pans). Depending on what I have, I might use all turkey meat, sausage etc or I might mix it all up, it is all delicious either way.

Please also enjoy responsibly, it is THAT good!

Oh and for those of you that may not get it at first, the name of the dish Parmasagna was purposely invented to mean half eggplant parm and half lasagna.
This was only two layers, build more for traditional look

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