This lean, mean eggplant lasagne has nothing to envy the classic Italian dish!
Preparation: 40 minutes
Cooking time: 3 hours
- For the sauce:
- 2 lb (900 g) lean ground beef
- 1 lb (450 g) spicy Italian sausage meat
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) olive oil
- 1/4 to 1/2 tsp (1 to 2.5 mL) red pepper flakes
- 3 onions, finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 3 sticks celery, diced
- 3 Tbsp (45 mL) tomato paste
- 2 28-oz (796 mL) cans Italian tomatoes
- 2 28-oz (796 mL) cans tomato sauce
- 4 Tbsp (60 mL) dried Italian seasoning
- Salt and pepper
- For the lasagne:
- 2 chubby eggplants
- Ricotta cheese
- Baby spinach
- Grated mozzarella cheese
- Coarse sea salt
Use a pan (obviously!) to pan-fry the sausage meat, ground beef, onion and garlic in the olive oil.
Add the remaining ingredients and simmer over low heat for 3 hours to let the sauce thicken and mellow. Just because the sauce is mellowing, that doesn’t mean you get to slack off yet! You still have work to do. Come on, chop, chop!
Well, not chop exactly. Slice the eggplants into pucks about a half-centimetre (a fifth of an inch) thick. That’s about a fifth the thickness of a hockey puck (but don’t be tempted to play hockey with an eggplant puck!)
Pour enough coarse sea salt over the eggplant pucks to cover both sides, and leave them to sweat for 20 minutes. Wait, what? Relax, sweating an eggplant just extracts excess water and removes any bitter taste. It won’t make your lasagne taste like a hockey locker room. Ugh, that’d just be gross!
Once the water has said arrivederci, sponge the eggplant pucks with some paper towel (or use your imagination to think of something else that might absorb any lingering moisture that didn’t take the hint), then lay them out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Put the sheet in the oven for 15 minutes at 350 F (180 C), then take it out and put the pucks on ice. Nope, not literally, just set them aside for later.
Grab a pan and watch Olive Oyl (olive oil) wilt Popeye’s spinach.
Sprinkle the grated mozzarella over those eggplant pucks that have been sitting on the baking sheet, just waiting to get back in the game. Put them back in the oven until the cheese melts nicely, then take them out again.
Now it’s time to build your leaning tower. Between each layer of eggplant and melted mozzarella, add a little ricotta, wilted spinach and sauce.
Top it all off with one last eggplant and melted mozzarella puck, admire your magnificent tower, and serve before it really starts to lean!
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