California Central Coast Recipes
Eggplant Parmesan, Lasagna Style
Eggplant Parmesan, Lasagna Style is our version of a "high-tech" Eggplant Parmesan. With its seven layers of eggplant, homemade sauce, mozzarella and Parmesan, it's unbelievably good and surprising healthy.
When we designed this recipe, we wanted to achieve two things: a "twice baked taste" on the first bite and a more elegant presentation than a bunch of eggplant cutlets floating in a sea of tomato sauce. This is achieved by slicing the eggplant into thin slices, lightly roasting the raw eggplant slices first, then layering them in the baking dish with the other ingredients to bake. (Technically the eggplant HAS been cooked twice.)
Be prepared though, your kitchen takes on the aromas of an Italian restaurant, so if you want to tempt your guests, this recipe should do it! We love it! And what's best about this recipe, the ingredients are available all year so that you can make it anytime.
Though this is an easy dish to make, you do need to allow enough time to cook the tomato sauce long enough for the fresh tomatoes to break down and the lasagna to cook long enough to amalgamate with its other ingredients. This recipe can be assembled ahead of time and then baked just before serving, but allow the lasagna to sit a few minutes after removing from oven.
Preparation time: 1 hour Cooking time: 1 hour
The Tomato Sauce
1/4 cups extra virgin olive oil
4 pounds fresh tomatoes , finely chopped but NOT pureed
3/4 pounds onion , chopped
4 to 5 medium cloves garlic , chopped
1/2 cups Italian parsley , chopped
2 teaspoons dried oregano
salt to taste
freshly cracked black pepper to taste
3 pounds Eggplant , about three medium size
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
8 ounces Mozzarella Cheese , thinly sliced
4 ounces Domestic Parmesan Cheese
Salt and Pepper
1 Preheat your oven to 375F.
2 Pour the olive oil into a large nonreactive Dutch oven or large saucepan and heat over medium-low heat. Add the onions and saute until softened. Add the garlic and continue to saute until garlic is fragrant.
3 Add the tomatoes and saute. Be sure to pick up the onion-garlic mixture and disburse it throughout the sauce. Turn the heat up to medium and simmer, stirring often.
4 Add in the oregano and stir. Add in the Italian parsley and stir. Add in the salt and pepper. Stir well and bring to a low simmer. Turn down the heat but continue to maintain the sauce at a low simmer. Let the sauce cook down for 40 minutes while preparing the rest of the ingredients.
5 While the sauce is cooking, with a mandoline or vegetable slicer, slice the eggplant length wise into 1/8 inch thick slices. VERY lightly brush each slice with olive oil (you do not want the slices to become soggy!) and place in a single layer on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
6 Shake a little salt and pepper on top, and place the slices into the hot oven for 10 minutes to bake. When done, the eggplant should be limp, but not browned.
7 (Hint: To speed the process up it helps to have a couple of baking sheets, working with one sheet at a time. Start baking the first sheet when assembled, and continue with the next sheet as the first bakes.)
8 When done, if you are going to cook the dish immediately, reduce the oven temperature to 350F
9 Lightly brush the inside of a heavy baking pan or dish large enough to hold all the eggplant (a 9x13x1.5 for three eggplants) with the remaining Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Lightly spread several tablespoons of the tomato sauce on the bottom of the dish. The sauce should NOT be applied in a thick layer, more like your would spread jam on piece of toast.
10 Next apply a layer of the baked eggplant slices on top of the sauce. Layer the eggplant as evenly as you can, The eggplant should not overlap - it's OK to have some gaps in between the slices.
11 Lightly spread several tablespoons of the tomato sauce on the bottom of eggplant. Again the sauce should NOT be applied in a thick layer, more like your would spread jam on piece of toast - you should see the eggplant layer.
12 Break up one ounce of the mozzarella slices into pieces and scatter evenly over the top. Then scatter 1/2 ounce of the Parmesan cheese even on top.
13 Next apply a layer of the baked eggplant slices on top of the cheese, and continue to build up Eggplant-Sauce-Cheese layers until you have six layers in all.
14 On the seventh and final layer, layer the eggplant slices, then add all the remaining sauce, then all the remaining cheese on top to finish the dish.
15 Place the dish into the 350F oven and cook for 40 minutes or until the top is browned and bubbling.
16 Remove the dish from the oven and allow the it to cool and set for 10 minutes before serving.
This recipe has a sweet, intense tomato-eggplant taste. If this is a main entree, as we like to serve it, serve it with a young simple fruity tomato friendly red wine like a light Sangiovese or Zinfandel.
If it is a side dish, it is very wine friendly, it will complement whatever wine you are pairing with the main entree.