I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape — the loneliness of it; the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show – Andrew Wyeth
I like the idea of embracing the season of frost, storm and cloud while the story of spring unfolds.
Whether that means hibernating under a pile of blankets to watch the winter Olympics (we’ve been staying up way too late catching the live action); hanging out in the fresh mountain air (hello motherland); or dinner by the fire in the comfort of home (and maybe the promise of something warm, bubbly and delicious baking in the oven).
Whatever your February holds, love it or leave it, I hope this dish fits in with your plans.
This was my first experiment with eggplant lasagna (have you tried it before?) I learnt a ton through the process and half dozen trials (always an upside to being
I’ve put together some detailed Notes in the recipe card to save you time (and grief) so be sure to give them a read before jumping in.
Cheers to the season of comfort, good food and resilient hearts.
- 2-3 eggplants (you will need about 7 long slices)
- 1 yellow onion, fine chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tsp. dried oregano
- ½ cup fresh basil, chopped
- 1 x 25 oz (709 g) jar of your favorite marinara (or pasta sauce of choice)
- 16 oz (2 cups/454 g) whole milk ricotta (cottage cheese lovers see Notes)
- 1 egg
- 2 oz (1/2 cup/56g) grated Parmesan
- 8 oz (2 cups/226 g) shredded whole milk mozzarella
- fresh chopped parsley for garnish (or basil as desired)
- This recipe will make 2 full layers (marinara, eggplant, ricotta/parm, moz cheese x 2). I used a rectangular glass pan 11.5" x 7.5" x 2"
- Preheat oven to 425° F
- Cut ends off eggplants and slice layers (eggplant 'noodles') thinly lengthwise, aiming for about 7 long'ish slices (from the mid section of the eggplant), somewhere between ⅛"-1/4” thick - if you have a mandoline you can use it here, otherwise just eyeball it.
- Place eggplant slices on a cooling rack and season with salt (this will help release some of the moisture) - let sit for 10 minutes dab dry with a clean dish towel and then flip and salt the other side and dab dry after 10 minutes.
- Lay eggplant slices on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with olive oil and bake for 5 minutes on each side, remove from oven, dab any excess moisture and set aside.
- Reduce oven heat to 400° F
- In a large skillet set to low-medium heat, sauté the onion and garlic in some olive oil for a few minutes until translucent. Add the oregano, mixing to combine and then stir in the marinara.
- Meanwhile, in a medium sized bowl, combine ricotta (or cottage cheese), Parmesan, egg and basil. Season with salt and pepper.
- In a rectangular casserole dish (I used 11.5" x 7.5" x 2"), spread a little less than half the marinara sauce across the base. Layer a row of eggplant “noodles" over the sauce (I only needed 3.5 ish across the width of the dish - see Notes for more info).
- Cover the eggplant slices with half of the ricotta/parm mixture and then top with half of the mozzarella.
- Repeat layers using remaining ingredients in the same order.
- Cover the dish with foil (making sure foil is not too close to your mozzarella cheese - it will stick!) and bake for 35 minutes. Remove from oven, uncover and bake for another 10 minutes until the tomato sauce is bubbling along the edges and the cheese is developing a nice golden color (you can also broil for a few minutes towards the end - watching closely not to burn).
- Remove from oven and allow the lasagna to cool for at least 15 minutes before slicing.
- Garnish with parsley or basil and accompany with a salad or as desired.
Can I use Cottage Cheese instead of Ricotta? I love cottage cheese and prefer its taste in lasagna. The issue here, again, is moisture. Ricotta is a dryer cheese that seems to work better with a vegetable based lasagna. If you want to use cottage cheese, I recommend cooling the lasagna fully and then slicing and rewarming. Otherwise, you may find it a little wet and tricky to get clean slices out of the oven.
My eggplant slices don't fully cover the surface, does it matter? I found that 3.5 center cut slices across the width of the dish worked well (tiny gaps but no big deal). If you have a larger gap betw slices just cut that shape from a leftover piece of eggplant to fill the gap. You can also overlap a bit.
Are thicker eggplant slices okay? I recommend somewhere betw ⅛" - ¼" thick - if the slices are too thick, they won't soften sufficiently and will taste dense/chewy and will also be more difficult to cut. Boo.
Why doesn't my mozzarella cheese topping look like yours? what kind of cheese did you use? Low-fat/fat free mozzarella cheese does not melt well - it turns into a sheet of plastic with burnt edges. Double boo.
I'm having trouble cutting the eggplant noodles, send help! Eggplant is denser than pasta however 3 things will help: (i) pick eggplants that are not overripe (they should be fairly firm to the touch in the center, giving way slightly when gently squeezed and springing back without staying indented where your fingers were); (ii) be sure to sweat & bake your eggplant per instructions; (iii) use a sharp knife or pizza cutter wheel and make the incisions fully (slicing back and forth) before attempting liftoff from the pan - this will help avoid getting hung.