Saturday, August 23, 2008

Eggplant Lasagna

I bought a bunch of eggplants in the market and wanted to put them to good use. I scoured the internet for ideas for how to make lasagna and found a good recipe for the cheese mixture. I also found a recipe for homemade pasta and embarked on the mission. It was a bit labour-intensive but so tasty and well worth it for the thanks from my friends.

Prepare lasagna sheets:
-On a clean, wide surface make a mound of 3 cups of flour with a dip in the middle (volcano)
-Crack an egg into the middle and beat with a fork within the volcano, picking up flour on the way; repeat with 2 more eggs for a total of 3
-Once you can't beat anymore with the fork, knead with your hands for a while - at least 5 minutes
-Set aside for about 30 minutes-On floured surface, roll (and roll and roll). It will most likely be easier to divide the dough in half and roll that way, otherwise it takes up too much space.
-Once it's flat enough to almost be transparent, cut into rectangular sheets-Get the widest slightly-deep pan you have and fill it an inch or two with water and set to boil
-Cook the sheets for a minute or two in the boiling water and then place aside to drain

Prepare eggplant:
-Preheat oven to about 200C/400F
-Cut a couple eggplants into 1/2inch thick slices.
-Place on a tray and coat with olive or canola oil
-Roast for about 5 or 10 minutes, then flip over and roast again

Prepare cheeses:
-Cube about 2 1/2 cups of fresh mozzarella, 1 cup provolone, 2 cups ricotta, 1 cup grated parmesan
-Mix in a large bowl with 2 or 3 cloves of minced garlic and an egg to hold it together

Prepare sauce:
-Make or buy a tomato sauce. I have a couple recipes on the site. I just made a basic one: sautee onion and garlic in olive oil with a bit of balsamic vinagrette. Add 2 or 3 tins of peeled tomatoes, 1 fresh tomato, some bay leaves, 1 tsp of stock powder, 1 tbsp tomato/chili paste, 1 tsp oregano, a bit of honey and some salt and pepper. Let simmer for about an hour (so start this before the pasta sheets)

Prepare lasagna:
-Line the bottom of a deep baking dish with eggplant
-Pour some sauce to cover eggplant
-Add the layer of cheese
-Repeat until everything is used up, trying to end with sauce on top. On the top place large pieces of mozarella
Cook lasagna:
-In an oven preheat to about 190C/380F, bake for about 30 or 40 minutes
-Take out and let cool for about 10 minutes so you don't burn the roof of your mouth

-I know it's labour-intensive. I made everything from scratch and from start to eating took less than 3 hours. But it was 3 full hours. Timewise, the best way to do this is to start the sauce, then make the pasta dough and roll it out; once it's flat and cut do the eggplant and while the eggplant is in the oven, cook the eggplant sheets in the boiling water. This way the oven can still be on once the eggplant is taken out of the oven and the lasagna can go right in.
-Rolling is pretty hard (especially with a wine bottle!). The best strategy, I find, is to roll a bit and then flip the dough over and rotate 1/4 of a circle clockwise. Once it gets pretty flat, it's harder to roll and you have to kind of press down as you slide the roller. Make sure stretch your fingers every now and then.
-This recipe for pasta is the same as any kind of pasta, so you can use it for any shape you'd like etc (I had more sheets than other material and so cut it into fettuccine and froze it)
-I don't peel eggplants because I like the texture and taste of the skin. I also have stopped salting them before hand since the newer varieties aren't as bitter and don't need that done

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