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Eggplant Lasagna: a Meal in a Slice

March 19, 1997|BETTY ROSBOTTOM | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; Rosbottom is a cooking-school director and author of "American Favorites" (Chapters Publishing, 1996)

For weeknight gatherings, robust, all-in-one main courses are my favorite choices, and I have a new recipe in my repertoire: tomato and roasted eggplant lasagna. The lasagna is made up of layers of pasta spread with homemade tomato sauce, then topped with roasted eggplant slices and a mixture of ricotta and Parmesan cheeses. The dish can be completely assembled ahead and baked when needed.

Since this lasagna is quite rich and satisfying, a simple spinach or mixed green salad in a vinaigrette dressing and warm garlic bread are the only side dishes necessary. To keep things simple, dessert could be sorbet or ice cream and fresh fruit with biscotti.



2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup chopped onions

2/3 cup diced (1/4-inch) carrots

1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic

3 (28-ounce) cans Italian-style tomatoes, drained and coarsely chopped

2 teaspoons dried basil leaves

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


2 cups chicken broth



6 sheets fresh pasta, each cut into 10x3 1/2-inch strips, about 1/2 pound

2 (1 1/2-pound) eggplants, unpeeled, ends trimmed

Nonstick cooking spray

6 to 7 tablespoons olive oil

3 cups (about 22 ounces) part-skim ricotta cheese

1 3/4 cups grated Parmigiano Reggiano

1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

1/4 cup basil leaves, sliced

Fresh pasta works best in this dish, but if using dried, you will need 9 lasagna noodles and will need to cook them longer, 10 to 15 minutes, then drain them in the same way.


Heat oil in large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add onions and carrots and saute, stirring, about 4 minutes. Add garlic; cook and stir 1 minute more. Add tomatoes, basil, red pepper flakes, black pepper and salt to taste. Stir well.

Add broth and bring to simmer. Cook until liquid is reduced and mixture is chunky, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat. Taste and add more salt if needed.


Place 3 kitchen towels on work surface. Bring 6 quarts water to boil in large heavy pan over high heat. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons salt and pasta and cook until tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove pasta and drain well on towels.

Line 2 baking sheets with aluminum foil and coat with nonstick cooking spray. Cut unpeeled eggplant into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Brush both sides of each slice with olive oil and arrange on baking sheets. Roast 1 sheet at a time at 500 degrees 10 minutes. Turn slices and roast 10 minutes more. Remove and cool.

Combine ricotta cheese, 1 1/2 cups Parmesan and parsley in mixing bowl and mix well.

Spray 13x9-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Arrange 3 pasta sheets just slightly overlapping in pan. Spread sheets thinly with 1/3 of tomato sauce. Next, arrange enough roasted eggplant slices to fit comfortably in single layer. Spread half of ricotta mixture evenly over eggplant. Repeat to make another layer.

Top final layer evenly with remaining tomato sauce. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.

Bake lasagna, uncovered, at 350 degrees until hot, about 45 minutes. Remove and cool 5 minutes. Garnish with basil.

6 to 8 servings. Each of 8 servings:

538 calories; 1,053 mg sodium; 41 mg cholesterol; 28 grams fat; 49 grams carbohydrates; 26 grams protein; 3.18 grams fiber.

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