I had a bumper crop of eggplant this year. I guess you could call me the eggplant whisperer. My favorite recipes to use it are the Caponata and Easiest Eggplant recipes I featured in this post last year but I like to branch out occasionally. Last week I experimented with a lasagna recipe that used sliced eggplant instead of pasta noodles and I may have to throw this one into the annual rotation. It was that good!
Eggplant and Red Lentil Lasagna
I found this recipe from one of my favorite plant based sources and used it as a template to create my own version of this dish. You could totally use your own lasagna recipe and substitute the eggplant (as prepared through the baking step) for noodles to create a lower carb version of something you already enjoy.
2 large eggplants, sliced into 1/4-inch slices lengthwise (see the photo below)
1 28-ounce jar of your favorite marinara sauce
Additional cooked vegetables or greens as desired. I added some oven roasted tomatoes and a small tub of baby spinach.
1 1/2 cups cooked lentils or other beans (canned red or kidney beans might be good)
12 oz. ricotta cheese (I made my own cashew ricotta using this recipe.)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Generously salt eggplant slices on both sides and place them in a colander in the sink. Let them sit for about 15 minutes. This helps to remove excess water. If you try to use the eggplant raw, without salting and pre-baking, you might end up with a soggy end product.
Rinse the salt off of the eggplant slices and lay them on a clean kitchen towel. Top with another clean towel and lay a baking sheet on top. Press to remove excess water.
Arrange the eggplant slice on baking sheets (might take two baking sheets – I squeezed mine onto one) in an even layer and spray or drizzle with a little olive oil. I use parchment paper and spray. Bake for about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and reduce the oven heat to 375 degrees F.
While eggplant is baking, add marinara sauce, lentils, and other vegetables if you are using them to a large saucepan and heat. You could skip a step here and not heat your sauce but keep in mind it will make your final baking time a little longer.
Here’s a tip. I like to arrange my ingredients in order of how they will go into the baking dish so I don’t get the order mixed up. Here is a picture of my sauce, cooked eggplant slices, and cheese all lined up.
Spread a thin layer of the sauce on the bottom of baking dish. Then layer on a few pieces of eggplant. Spoon half of the ricotta filling over the eggplant slices and spread into an even layer. Then top with another layer of marinara sauce. Repeat. The top layers should be marinara.
Sprinkle with a little parmesan cheese if desired and cover with foil. Bake at 375 F for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 10-15 minutes or until the sauce is bubbly and the top layer is slightly browned. Let rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing.
If you take the leftovers to work and heat them in the microwave your co-workers might be jealous. Mine were!