Before there was even a hint of it in the food magazines, I used to cut up green and yellow squash and use it instead of pasta under a tomato sauce. For the past two years food magazines have had all kinds of recipes for this “healthful” option. (Although I’m not sure you need a recipe to chop squash and pour tomato sauce over it.)
In our CSA distribution last week, there were two very large and very fat eggplants. Which means we are having eggplant rather a lot just now. Today, not feeling like breading it and making a “parmesan,” or chopping it and making a ratatouille, I decided to slice it length-wise and use it in place of lasagna noodles.
I haven’t seen this particular vegetable-as-pasta permutation written about anywhere yet, but I am sure it is coming. When it does, remember, you read about it here first.
If you want to re-create my very yummy, newly invented “eggplant lasagna,” here is the recipe, or at least what I did. I didn’t measure, so in putting down the ingredients I am kind of guessing. However, it’s not rocket science or very fussy, so as long as you keep to the general idea, you should be fine.
1 very large, very fat eggplant
5 small/medium garlic cloves
1 medium onion
1# (more or less) ground turkey
1 carton Pomi tomato sauce (17.64 oz/500 gm size – I imagine any sauce would do; I like Pomi because it is just tomatoes)
1 T. dried basil
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. black pepper
maybe 1/16 tsp. cinnamon (the merest dusting)
15 oz. part skim ricotta
8 oz. part skim cottage cheese
8 oz. shredded part skim mozzarella
4 oz. shredded parmesan
¼# thinly sliced prosciutto (optional – I needed to use it up and thought why not?)
- Peel the eggplant. Slice it into “noodles.” I ended up slicing the eggplant in half horizontally first, as it had a decided “waist” about it. This made shorter “noodles”, but that ended up being a good thing. I sliced the two halves vertically into perhaps ¼ inch thick sections. Some of the slices seemed rather wide, so I cut them in half. You don’t want to end up with chunks, but other than that, slice it so it will fit into your pan. (I used a 13 x 9 glass dish.)
- Put the eggplant slices in a colander, sprinkling salt between the layers. Either put the colander in the sink or on paper towels and let the eggplant sweat for about half an hour. When done with the sweating process, rinse the eggplant thoroughly and pat dry with paper towels.
- In the meantime, finely chop the garlic and onion and sauté them in olive oil in a large skillet. When the garlic and onion are soft and translucent, add the ground turkey. Cook until done, stirring to break it up. Drain any fat.
- Add the tomato sauce, the basil, the sugar, the salt, the pepper and the cinnamon. Simmer on low for maybe 10 minutes.
- Combine the ricotta and cottage cheese. Grate the mozzarella and parmesan (if you haven’t already bought them that way because you are lazy like me.)
- Oil the bottom of a 13 x 9 glass casserole with a little olive oil. Fit together a layer of eggplant slices. (You should use about half of them – but depending on the size of the casserole and the size of the eggplant, it may be more or less.) Top with half the sauce, half the ricotta/cottage cheese mixture, half the prosciutto, half the mozzarella and half the parmesan – in that order.
- Repeat the layering process. If you have eggplant left over, make something else like caponata or ratatouille, or throw it out because it isn’t a lot and you are feeling very virtuous that you used almost all of a very fat, very large eggplant.
- Bake at 325 for +/- 45 minutes. Let it set for 10 minutes or so before serving. My guess is that this would serve 6 as a main; 10 as a side. But, I suppose that would depend on appetites and if everyone liked eggplant…
- Open up a bottle of red wine, or drink the leftover rosé in the refrigerator (I know, I know, how can anyone have any leftover rosé?) and enjoy! Probably a salad and some bread would be tasty with this, but I had eaten the last of the salad greens the day before and we don’t have bread with meals, so The Hunter and I were just happy with another glass of wine.
The take-away? Anything, including an embarrassment of eggplant, can be overcome as long as you have enough wine.