When I started the South Beach Diet a few weeks ago, I had to rethink some of our meals, and less pasta was high on the list. It’s easy to get good fresh vegetables at this time of year, and we’ve kept the refrigerator stocked. I’ve had eggplant lasagna on many occasions, but always with the noodles, so this time I decided to use the eggplant in place of the noodles, thus keeping the hearty comfort food a little healthier.
Grilling the eggplant lends a nice smoky flavor to the lasagna, and I left the skin on to help hold the slices together on the grill. The sauce is our favorite spaghetti sauce from Michael’s mom, and the rest is just easy layering and baking. I made this on a weeknight after simmering the sauce all morning and afternoon, but you could also make this a weekend family meal or even for company in individual portions.
GRILLED EGGPLANT LASAGNA
9×13 baking pan
medium mixing bowl
1 recipe spaghetti sauce
1 eggplant, 16 ounces (~454 g) or larger
15 ounces (425 g) part-skim ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan + more for sprinkling on top
2 teaspoons dried basil or 3/4 cup (~30 g) fresh basil leaves, torn
8 ounces (227 g) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1. Prepare the sauce according to the directions. You can make this ahead and store in the refrigerator or freezer. If frozen, thaw before using.
2. Preheat the grill to medium, about 350° F/175° C.
3. Slice the eggplant into 1/4-inch (0.5 cm) rounds with the skin still on. Brush with olive oil. Grill for about 3 to 4 minutes per side.
4. Preheat the oven to 350° F/175° C.
5. In the medium mixing bowl, stir together the ricotta, egg, grated Parmesan, and dried basil. If using fresh basil, leave it out for now.
6. Spread a ladle or two of the prepared sauce in the bottom of the baking dish. Lay down a row of the grilled eggplant, then spread about 1/3 of the ricotta cheese mixture. It doesn’t have to look pretty, just make sure that it is evenly distributed, even if it’s in clumps. If using fresh basil, add 1/2 of the leaves in a layer.
7. Add about 2 more cups of sauce, then half the remaining grilled eggplant, 1/2 of the remaining cheese mixture, and the rest of the fresh basil (if using).
8. Add another 2 cups of the sauce, the rest of the grilled eggplant, and the rest of the ricotta cheese mixture. Spread the remaining sauce on top then top with the shredded mozzarella and some more Parmesan.
9. Bake uncovered in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, until the lasagna is cooked all the way through and the top is bubbly and golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for about 5 to 10 minutes before serving.