Cheap Recipe: Eggplant Lasagna

24 Aug

For a printable version of this recipe and complete ingredients listing, click here.

I actually prefer this to regular noodle lasagna at this point.

I actually prefer this to regular noodle lasagna at this point.

This is one of my favorite go-to meals whenever I climb aboard the low-carb wagon. It’s both Atkins- and South Beach Diet-friendly, and you won’t miss the carbs one bit. I’m not dieting at all right now, and I still choose this kind of lasagna over the noodle kind, if that tells you anything.

Last weekend, I was lucky enough to score a great deal on eggplants at the store–99 cents apiece for big, fat ripe squash as pretty as can be! I bought two, and wound up using only one for this recipe, so I guess I’ll have to think of another recipe soon that involves eggplant!

Anyway, I really, really like this recipe because the eggplant, which is used in place of noodles, loses all its bitterness in this recipe and the end result turns out tasting like giant mushrooms in between the layers of lasagna. They even turn the color of mushrooms and have the same texture and everything, which also saves you money and time having to add mushrooms to your recipe!

Can't beat 99 cents for one of these big beauties!

Can't beat 99 cents for one of these big beauties!

And this time of year, using an eggplant in place of noodles will probably even save you a little bit of money. (It may just be 40 cents or so, but add a 60-cent can of mushrooms you won’t have to use, and that’s a dollar you’ve kept in your pocket making it this way!)

If the eggplant is really ripe, you might want to use a knife instead of a vegetable peeler to strip the skin.

If the eggplant is really ripe, you might want to use a knife instead of a vegetable peeler to strip the skin.

Begin by preheating oven to 350 degrees. Peel a medium-to-large sized eggplant, chopping both ends off. Using a sharp knife (I use a chef’s knife), cut the eggplant into the thinnest slices you can manage (1/4 inch thick is pretty standard). It’s okay if some of the slices tear or are small because you’ll find spots in the layers where they’ll fit in perfectly.

Place a wire cookie cooking rack over a cookie sheet and arrange the eggplant slices on
It's okay if the slices overlap a little so they all fit in the oven.

It's okay if the slices overlap a little so they all fit in the oven.

the cookie sheet so most of every slice is exposed. It’s okay if there’s a little overlap, though.

Sprinkle the slices liberally with salt. This will help soak up any bitterness and leech it out of there. Pop the tray of eggplant in the oven for about 5-7 minutes and remove again.

Meanwhile, prepare sauce by either heating a jar of store-bought sauce or concoting your own. (If making your own, use 1 large can diced tomatoes and 1 regular can tomato
Make sure you drain diced tomatoes first if making your own sauce!

Make sure you drain diced tomatoes first if making your own sauce!

sauce. I added garlic, basil, oregano and marjoram for mine.)

In a medium bowl, combine 8 oz. (1 cup) cream cheese, 8 oz. ricotta or cottage cheese, and 8 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese. Add garlic powder to taste and oregano if desired.

Crack an egg (or two) into the mixture and blend all

This is the bowl I like to lick at the end...mmm, cheesy!

This is the bowl I like to lick at the end...mmm, cheesy!

ingredients until uniformly smooth. Set aside.
Spoon a small amount of tomato sauce into the bottom of a 9×13 glass baking dish. Lay the first layer of eggplant slices (they cool really quickly after coming out of the oven) over the sauce.
Mix and match slices until most of the surface area is covered by eggplant. It's not rocket science, so don't fret over it. Just do a quasi-good job and move on.

Mix and match slices until most of the surface area is covered by eggplant. It's not rocket science, so just do a decent job and move on.

Spoon tomato sauce evenly over the eggplant layer and then spread a thick layer of cheese mixture over the sauce. Since I only do one cheese layer, I pack it in there pretty thick. If you’re doing more than two layers of eggplant you might want to be a little more conservative, but it’s up to you.

Arrange a second eggplant layer over the cheese and spoon remaining tomato sauce

If your discount store doesn't cover ricotta, just sub cottage cheese and up the eggs from 1 to 2.

If your discount store doesn't cover ricotta, just sub cottage cheese and up the eggs from 1 to 2.

 over the top. Sprinkle about 1 cup shredded mozzarella on top of the whole thing, cover it with foil, and it’s ready for the oven.

Bake approximately one hour or until cheese is golden and bubbly. A good trick I use to keep the cheese from sticking to the aluminum foil is to spray the underside of the foil with a good shot of nonstick cooking spray before I cover the dish.

If your lasagna winds up taller than the dish, just spray the foil cover with nonstick oil.

If your lasagna winds up taller than the dish, just spray the foil cover with nonstick oil.

Remove from oven and allow 10-15 minutes to cool. When you slice into the lasagna, don’t worry about the texture of the eggplant. All of that oven time and sauce saturation will have converted the notoriously rubbery vegetable into a tender, easily sliced layer with a melt-in-your mouth kind of richness and flavor. Who knew?
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