Eggplant is in season and we’ve been very successful in growing our own this year.
We have five plants – each producing three to four eggplants. Hence, we have an abundance of eggplant!
I have utilised these eggplants in our dinners by either slicing or cutting them into big chunks and then cooking them by roasting or grilling. I mostly enjoy them thinly sliced, grilled and then tossed through pasta or a salad.
It is important to always salt raw eggplant prior to cooking to extract their bitterness. Simply slice or cut the eggplants into chunks, place them into a colander and sprinkle with salt. Allow to sit for 30 mins or more. Rinse salt off and then cook as per your preferred method.
Some other favourite eggplant dishes of mine include Moussaka, (that popular Greek dish) which is a casserole made by layering grilled eggplant with a spiced meat filling then topped with potatoes and a creamy bechamel sauce that is baked. Another winner is Stuffed Eggplant (Melzanie Ripieni), which is my mum’s recipe. Here the eggplant flesh is removed and cooked, then added to a mince meat mixture and refilled into the shell of the eggplant. Its then oven roasted with tomato sugo and grated parmesan cheese. Delizioso!
However, today’s recipe of Grilled Eggplant, Ricotta & Tomato Lasagna is courteous of the cooking show – Everyday Gourmet with Justine Schofield (& special guest chef Adam Swanson). I don’t generally watch this program but whilst flicking through the channels, I noticed that they were cooking with eggplants.
I watched on as I loved all the ingredients they were employing to build their lasagna – grilled eggplant, ricotta, semi sun-dried tomatoes, parmesan cheese and basil. Consequently, I went ahead and made it. I altered a few items from the original recipe – I increased the quantity of each ingredient as my baking dish is large and added chopped onion to my tomato passata sauce. I grilled the slices of eggplant but if you are short of time, you could lay the slices of eggplant on a tray lined with baking paper, drizzle with olive oil and place in the oven to bake for 30 mins or until cooked through.
As a result, the lasagna was easy to prepare, delicious to eat and a winner with the family. Perfetto (perfect)!
Even as this is a vegetarian dish, the eggplant acts as a substantial meaty component and is allowed to stand out by using the milder flavour of ricotta cheese. You could obtain the same results by substituting ricotta with bocconcini cheese. The inclusion of semi sun-dried tomatoes adds a strong, sweet flavour to the dish.
I served this dish with a side of salad comprising of rocket leaves, red onion and cucumber.
A simple dish, with a few fresh ingredients, and packed full of flavour – synonymous with Italian cooking!
40 minPrep Time
30 minCook Time
1 hr, 10 Total Time
1 to 2 packets of Instant Lasagna sheets (you can make your own pasta sheets if you have time).
700g jar of tomato passata
3 large eggplants, sliced lengthways (lightly salt raw eggplant prior to cooking to extract their bitterness. Simply slice eggplants lengthways, place them into a colander and sprinkle with salt. Allow to sit for 30 mins or more. Then rinse salt off and dry eggplants with paper towel to prepare for grilling).
½ cup olive oil
250g- 350g ricotta cheese
1 cup semi sun-dried tomatoes, cut in halve
1 brown onion, chopped (Optional: This ingredient was not in the original recipe, but I always love to add chopped onion to my Italian tomato sugo)
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 cup parmesan cheese
Salt & pepper
- Preheat oven to 180c.
- Heat a tblsp of olive oil to a medium size pan, add chopped onion & a pinch of salt and cook for 2 to 3 mins. Then add the garlic, stir and cook for a further 1min. Now add the jar of tomato passata with ½ cup of water. Bring to the boil, and then simmer for 10mins. Take off the heat.
- Heat a griddle pan or bbq grill to high and lightly oil the eggplants. Grill on each side for 2 to 3 mins. Place eggplants on a plate.
- Take a baking dish and cover base with enough tomato passata.
- Cover with a layer of lasagna sheets and then with just a little tomato passata.
- Tear pieces of eggplant and lay over the sheets of lasagna.
- Scatter ricotta over the eggplant and pieces of semi sun-dried tomato.
- Sprinkle parmesan and basil leaves to finish layer.
- Repeat the layering processes (steps 5 to 8) until 4 layers have been made.
- Finish with a layer of pasta sheets on top and spoon over remaining passata, ricotta and parmesan cheese to cover the top.
- Cover the baking dish with foil and place in oven.
- Cook for 30mins and then take off foil. Place baking dish bake in oven and cook for further 10mins or until lasagna is golden and cooked through.