Roasted Eggplant and Portobello Lasagna

Lesson of the Day:

Tomato Paste, you know those little teeny tiny cans you buy in the Italian aisle at the grocery store. The thing that you use like ONE scoop of and throw the rest away. Wasteful. Yes, I’m talking about you.

I saw this amazing recipe on Foodess.com, and it looked so good I had to try it. So, I pulled together my ingredients. Canned diced tomatoes, check. Lasagna Noodles, check. Eggplant and Portobello, check and check. Tomato Paste, AH!! What to do!!

So, with a little help from Seattle Times, I discovered that you can boil down pureed tomatoes until the liquid reduces, and you’re left with that thick paste of tiny containers. SAVED!

Now, I have shared my wisdom; you must pass it on to someone else. You’re welcome. No, no, really. It’s ok. It’s why I do this.

I now present: Roasted Eggplant and Portobello Lasagna: aka, What Dreams are Made of…

A Word of Caution: This is not something you whip together. It is VERY time consuming, but delicious. So, if you’re having company over, this is a dish for you.

First things first, you must chop your veggies. Salt the eggplant generously, and let sit for at least 15 minutes, but longer is better. This will draw out the bitterness of Eggplant and allow it to cook nicely instead of getting goopy and oily (Think Eggplant Parm, YUMMO!)

Then crank that broiler up, and let the veggies char. Flip and broil for a few minutes more. Now you’re ready to move on to the marinara.

Add a generous amount of olive oil to a deep skillet. Let it heat until it shimmers and add your chopped onions. Cook until translucent and divine smelling, and add a heap of minced garlic. Oh, doesn’t that smell nice??? Add the canned tomatoes and tomato paste (that you made yourself) to the pot. Sprinkle with salt. Add some spices, basil, oregano, and parsley are good. Let this simmer for at least 20 minutes. If you have one of those food immersion tools, use it. If you don’t (don’t feel bad, I don’t either), put it in your blender and give it a whirl.

Moving on to the spinach and cheese mixture. If you have a food processor, you are awesome. Mine got lost in either my move, or kitchen renovation, but its all for the best. It was terrible. Christmas gift?? Mince the spinach in your food processor and stir in the ricotta cheese or cottage cheese. If you have to use your blender, I added a splash of milk to get things moving. It made a delicious creamy spinach concoction.

We’re ready!! Here we go, time to put it all together!

Let it bake uncovered until the cheese browned and its bubbly. Mmm…that looks good and it tastes even better!

For the full recipe, visit Foodess.com

Roasted Eggplant and Portobello Mushroom Lasagna

1 box oven-ready lasagna noodles
2 cups ricotta or cottage cheese
6 oz spinach (about 6 cups)
1 lb mozzarella cheese, shredded (makes 4 cups)
1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano (optional, do not substitute the powdery parmesan cheese)
1 recipe Marinara Sauce (below)
1 recipe Roasted Eggplant and Portobello Mushrooms (below)

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Mince spinach in a food processor, then stir in ricotta or cottage cheese. Set aside. Spread about 1 cup of marinara sauce in the bottom of a 13″ by 9″ baking dish, and arrange 3 lasagna noodles over top. Spread another 1 cup of sauce over noodles, and add half of the roasted vegetables and 1/3 of the cheese. Top with 3 more noodles, then the spinach/cottage cheese mixture. Repeat with another layer of sauce, vegetables and cheese. Top with noodles, the remaining sauce, the remainder of the mozzarella, plus the parmagiano reggiano, if using. Bake uncovered for 35-45 minutes, and let rest 10 minutes before cutting.

Basic Marinara Sauce

1/4 cup olive oil
1 large onion, diced
5-6 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp tomato paste
4 cups diced, canned tomatoes
Salt

1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Saute onion until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute 2 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and canned tomatoes. Simmer 20 minutes, uncovered. Puree sauce with an immersion blender, or in batches if using a regular blender. Season well with salt, tasting as you go.

Roasted Eggplant and Portobello Mushrooms

1 large eggplant or 2 small ones
2-3 portobello mushrooms
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt

1. Preheat broiler, and arrange a rack at top of the oven. Slice eggplant into 1/4 inch rounds. Sprinkle generously with salt on both sides, and layer in a colander. Let eggplant sit for at least 15 minutes, then rinse with cool water and dry well with paper towels.

2. Slice portobello mushroom caps into 1/3 inch strips. Coarsely chop stems. Toss mushrooms and eggplant with 1/4 cup oil and arrange in a single later on a baking sheet. Broil until soft and charred, flipping after about 6 minutes and cooking about another 3 minutes on the other side.

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