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So, we've got friends who are going through a very sad loss of a family member right now. Obviously this calls for the delivery of a warm and hearty dinner. Our friends have dietary restrictions, though, and so our initial thought of lasagna had to be modified. What we ended up concocting was so fantastic that I have to share it with you here. Substituting eggplant for pasta we made the heartiest, yummiest dish.
The only problem we encountered along the way was that the dish turned very liquidy after baking in spite of our having browned the eggplant in a skillet. We learned from a friend that, to avoid this, we could have sprinkled the slices with salt and left them in a strainer for about 30 minutes which would have pulled a lot of the liquid out. We're not sure if the liquidiness was such an issue, based on how much everyone who ate the meal enjoyed it, but we're thinking that next time we'll give this trick a try to see how the results compare.
Despite it's stewy quality, we're sticking to Eggplant Lasagna as our name for this dinner.
1 large eggplant, sliced top to bottom in roughly 1/2-inch slices
1 jar pasta sauce (we used puttanesca and highly recommend you do the same)
2/3 lb. mozzarella cheese, sliced into roughly 1/4-inch thick pieces
12 oz. ricotta
freshly shaved parmesan (I'm going to have to say "to taste" because I have no idea how much we used. We were definitely generous, though)
3-4 links italian fennel sausage (or not! go veggie for a Meatless Monday meal)
handful medium brown mushrooms, sliced
5 c. raw spinach (de-stemmed)
1/2 yellow onion, sliced
1 bunch of basil (de-stemmed)
Prepare eggplant, either by browning it or by trying the salt-and-drain method (and maybe browning afterwards?). Saute sausage, mushrooms, onion and spinach. Starting with a layer of sauce in a large loaf pan, build upwards in this order: sauce, eggplant, basil leaves, veggies and sausage, cheese. Repeat until loaf pan is full and bake at 375 until bubbly and brown. Enjoy!