Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Man Cave: Eggplant Lasagna

Hi all.I figured we would go with a recipe post for todays Man Cave. How does Eggplant Lasagna sound? Its a nice vegetarian dish that even satisfies the carnivores and can be made vegan friendly with no real problem. 

First the ingredients. Start with eggplant (of course). The amount of eggplant you need will vary depending on how much you want to feed and the size of the eggplant. I went with three small-medium sized eggplant and it was more than we actually needed. You'll also want garlic, mushrooms, cheese (ricotta, mozzarella and Parmesan), olive oil and spaghetti sauce. For this we used some of my leftover homemade spaghetti sauce. I think there is a recipe for that in an older post, or you can go with your favorite store brand. Of course feel free to add any other veg. you want. If you want to go vegan there are some nice alternatives you can use for the cheese but pretty much everything else will work as is. 




First thing to do is preheat the oven to 400. Peel and slice the eggplant while its warming. Brush the slices with olive oil and salt. I put plenty of olive oil in a bowl for this. Dont worry if you pour too much because the excess can be used in the next step. Once brushed with oil but the slices on a cookie sheet...or whatever you have handy (I went with a pizza pan in this case...just because). Roast the eggplant for 20-30 minutes flipping it half way through.



Above: Basted eggplant


Above: Half way through

While that's in the oven slice up the mushrooms and dice the garlic as you like them (I love hunks of mushroom and a moderate dice on the garlic). Saute the mushrooms in the oil left from brushing the eggplant or get more oil if you used it all. You can also use butter if you like. Dont forget a bit of salt here too. After the mushrooms have cooked most of the way through add the garlic. Once they are cooked to your liking (I like the garlic to just start turning brown) remove the pan from the heat and let cool a bit. As a side note onions would be nice in this too, but I used quite a bit in the batch of sauce so didnt want to overpower everything.



Above: 'shrooms and garlic in oil...I love garlic and mushrooms...

While the mushrooms are cooling crack two eggs into a mixing bowl and whisk. Add the ricotta cheese, salt, pepper, whatever spices you like (some suggestions would be torn basil, red pepper flake, oregano, an Italian blend of spices, ect.) and parmesan. Again, I heavily seasoned the tomato sauce so didnt add a lot of the spices to the cheese mixture as it would have overwhelmed the dish as a whole. Use your best judgement based on your sauce (I find most premade sauces need the extra umph and so this is where you probably want to add it). Once thats all mixed your mushroom and garlic mixture should be cooled down enough so add it in and mix. The eggs are optional if you are going with the vegan variant...or are just out of eggs. I add them because...well tradition I guess. Ive made lasagna before without it and didnt notice much of a difference.


Cheese and mushroom mixture after its been added to the lasagna. I don't have a picture of it in the bowl, but you get the idea. 

By now everything should be ready to assemble the lasagna. After you pull the eggplant out lower the oven temp to 300. Now start putting your lasagna together. Put a bit of sauce in the bottom of a baking dish. Layer some of the eggplant, then top with the mushroom and cheese mixture. Put another layer of eggplant ontop of that. Put more of the sauce ontop of the second layer of eggplant. Finally, top with a mixture of mozzarella and Parmesan.

First layer of eggplant on the base of sauce
Second layer of Eggplant on top of the cheese mixture.

Sauce on top of the second layer.
Cheese
More cheese.

Once everything is assembled put your dish into the 300 degree oven for about half an hour. The center should be done (particularly important if you added the egg) but if the top isnt browned to your liking turn the broiler on high for a bit. Dont leave it unattended because it will burn in a heartbeat. 

I like mine on the well golden side

Once you get it to the color you like let it set and cool for a bit. 5-10 minutes on the counter should do. 

I hope you enjoy, I know we did. 

Also, now I want lasagna...