So you might laugh at me, but even Florida has chilly evenings and requires some warm, comfort food. While there has been by no means snow this winter, we have dipped into the 40’s – cold, right?! As such, I’ve been on the mission to create some heartier dinners. One can only eat so many meat dishes though, and so I turned to one of my favorites for inspiration – eggplant. There is so much flavor & texture in eggplant. This combination of roasted eggplant with tangy tomato sauce and creamy cheeses is so good, you won’t even realize there is no meat or pasta in this lasagna. Seriously, you will not miss them. Don’t skip the nutmeg, balsamic vinegar and fresh basil… they add another layer of flavor that really compliment the main ingredients.
- 2 Eggplants
- 2 Eggs
- 1 Cup+ Whole Wheat Bread Crumbs
- 12oz Ricotta Cheese
- 1/2 Bag Shredded Parmesan Cheese
- 1/2 Bag Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
- 1 Jar Marinara Sauce (or homemade)
- Half Bag Fresh Spinach, shredded
- 2 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
- 1 tsp Nutmeg
- Fresh Basil, chiffonade
- Dried Oregano, to taste
- Salt & Pepper, to taste
Trim the stem of the eggplant and cut into 1/4 -inch thick round discs. Generously sprinkle the pieces with coarse salt. Place them in a single layer on paper towel for a minimum 20 minutes. Using another paper towel, gently press out excess moisture. Flip the eggplant over and repeat the process. Lightly rub the pieces in the towel to rub off the salt and dry them. This process makes the eggplant less bitter.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
On two separate plates, mix two eggs with a small amount of water and on the other plate mix the whole wheat bread crumbs with salt & pepper.
Dip each eggplant disc into the eggs, covering completely, and then dredge them into the mixture of bread crumbs and cheese. *If you would prefer not breading the eggplant you could simply roast them. Drizzle with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and then sprinkle with salt and pepper.* Arrange the eggplant in a single layer. Roast for 20-25 minutes, or until they start to brown.
In a large bowl, mix the ricotta cheese with the shredded spinach, nutmeg, a bit of oregano and some salt.
In an oven-safe casserole dish, pour a small layer of tomato sauce into the bottom of the dish. Place a layer of the baked eggplant into the dish and then top with half of the spinach ricotta. Pour more of the tomato sauce on top, along with a drizzle of the balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with half of the shredded parmesan and mozzarella. Next, add another layer of eggplant and continue to stack the items until the dish is filled, finishing with a layer of tomato sauce and topped with the remaining parmesan and mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle with the dried oregano and salt & pepper.
Bake the dish for 20-25 minutes, or until the sides start to bubble. When done cooking, sprinkle with the fresh chopped basil.