Eggplant Lasagna- the White Version

Aug 19th

Apparently I like eggplant lasagna, huh? I made this lasagna in gargantuan proportions for a catering job last fall and a certain friend happened to be in attendance. Since then she has been hinting at me making this for her; it hasn’t happened yet BUT now she can make it herself, because here’s the recipe! It truly is delicious…it’s one I plan on making frequently in the future.

This recipe is over ten years old, from Gourmet mag. It’s slightly more time intensive as it requires you to make a bechamel sauce as well as pesto. However, this being the second time I made it I can tell you it went WAY faster once I got the hang of things. When I made it I didn’t have a picture tutorial (like you will), so have no fear.

What’s bechamel? It’s one of the “mother sauces” in French cooking. You make it by first making a roux (sauteing equal parts fat and flour.. usually butter and flour), and then whisking in milk. You let the sauce simmer and reduce and then add any seasonings. If you added cheese, you’d have a cheese sauce to make homemade mac and cheese! Once you understand how easy this is, you will feel very fancy and be able to make quite a few different dishes (fettuccine Alfredo anyone?)

This would be a great make-ahead-and-freeze meal; in your next three months there will probably be a birth, a death (hopefully not!), or an event where food would be appreciated. I am actually making this for myself, to put in my freezer, as I’ll probably have a baby in the next two weeks or so. I mean, I will, God willing, the baby is coming.

 

Eggplant Lasagna- the White Version

Makes an 8×8 pan of lasagna (double recipe to make a 9×12 pan)

Adapted from Gourmet


Bechamel

1 clove garlic

1 1/2 tbsp. butter

2 1/2 tbsp. flour

2 1/2 c. milk (I used 1%…2% or whole would be best. Don’t use skim)

1 bay leaf

1/2 tsp. salt

pinch pepper

Pesto

1 heaping c. hazelnuts, toasted, divided

1 c. loosely packed fresh parsley

1 c. loosely packed fresh basil

3/4 c. parmesan (parmigiano reggiano if you have it)

1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil

Filling

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp.

1/2 egg (2 tbsp. beaten egg)

1 c. ricotta cheese (I used part skim, you can use whole if you want)

2 lb eggplant, sliced (1 very large eggplant)

3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

6 oven ready lasagna noodles

1/4 c. parmesan (parmigiano reggiano again, if you have it)

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

2. Start with your eggplant. Slice it into 3/4 in. thick slices and lay out on an oiled baking sheet. Brush with olive oil on both sides and sprinkle with salt and pepper (1/2 tsp. of each, roughly). Bake for twenty minutes, turning the slices over once half way through the baking time. When you take your eggplant out, reduce oven temperature to 425 degrees.

3. While eggplant is baking, start on bechamel. In a medium sauce pan, melt butter over medium low heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for about thirty seconds (DO NOT LET YOUR GARLIC BROWN). Have your ingredients prepared before starting. You will make life a lot less stressful. 

4. Add flour and whisk for three minutes. This is your roux. You want to cook that flour until it develops a nice toasty flavor and you lose all the graininess.

5. When roux has started to brown slightly, add milk in a steady stream, whisking constantly.

6. Add bay leaf and bring heat up to medium high. Whisk constantly until it comes to a boil; reduce heat to low and let liquid simmer for about ten minutes. Whisk occasionally so that milk doesn’t “catch” on the bottom of the pan. Simmer means very small bubbles, barely breaking the surface. 


7. After mixture has thickened and reduced, whisk in salt and pepper and remove bay leaf. Pour mixture into a liquid measuring cup. You should have about 2 c. worth. Press plastic wrap to the top until you’re ready to use it (so that a skin doesn’t form… gross).

See the edges? You can see the sauce has been reduced from where it once was

If it coats the back of your spoon, you’ve achieved the intended results!


8. Pesto! Take about 1/3 c. of your hazelnuts (also called filberts) and chop them. They will be your topping. Put the rest in your food processor. Add your herbs, cheese, oil, salt and pepper. Puree until smooth, scraping down the sides of the processor occasionally. If you find the consistency too dry, add more oil in small increments until you’re happy.

9. In another bowl, combine your egg and ricotta. Scoop out a 1/2 c. of your pesto and add it to your ricotta/egg mixture. Mix until smooth and green!

10. Time for assembly: Start by greasing your baking pan. Next, cover the bottom with a heaping 1/2 c. of the bechamel.

11. Place two noodle sheets on top. Drop a heaping 1/2 c. ricotta mixture on top and smooth over the surface. Top with a layer of eggplant, cutting rounds to fit if necessary (four should cover it well).

12. Make one more layer each of bechamel, pasta, ricotta, and eggplant.

13. Spread with bechamel and cover with remaining two pasta sheets. Spread remaining ricotta mixture and then top with the end of your bechamel.

14. Top with the last of your eggplant. Scatter reserved chopped hazelnuts over top, and then sprinkle parmesan over top.

15. Cover baking dish tightly with oiled foil (oiled side down). Bake in 425 degree oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil and cook for another 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the dish is golden and bubbling.

16. Let cool at least ten minutes before slicing and serving.

*If freezing, let dish come to almost room temperature, or just warm. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and then foil. Freeze for up to 3 months!

*If making ahead, prepare the dish (except for the topping of hazelnuts/parm) and refrigerate for several days. Bake when ready!

You will have leftover pesto, most likely. Mix it with some ricotta cheese and  toss with cooked, whole wheat pasta. Dinner tonight!

Eggplant Lasagna- the White Version

Makes an 8×8 pan of lasagna (double recipe to make a 9×12 pan)

Adapted from Gourmet


Bechamel

1 clove garlic

1 1/2 tbsp. butter

2 1/2 tbsp. flour

2 1/2 c. milk (I used 1%…2% or whole would be best. Don’t use skim)

1 bay leaf

1/2 tsp. salt

pinch peper

Pesto

1 heaping c. hazelnuts, toasted, divided

1 c. loosely packed fresh parsley

1 c. loosely packed fresh basil

3/4 c. Parmesan (parmigiano reggiano if you have it)

1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil

Filling

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp.

1/2 egg (2 tbsp. beaten egg)

1 c. ricotta cheese (I used part skim, you can use whole if you want)

2 lb eggplant, sliced (1 very large eggplant)

3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

6 oven ready lasagna noodles

1/4 c. Parmesan (parmigiano reggiano again, if you have it)

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

2. Start with your eggplant. Slice it into 3/4 in. thick slices and lay out on an oiled baking sheet. Brush with olive oil on both sides and sprinkle with salt and pepper (1/2 tsp. of each, roughly). Bake for twenty minutes, turning the slices over once half way through the baking time. When you take your eggplant out, reduce oven temperature to 425 degrees.

3. While eggplant is baking, start on bechamel. In a medium sauce pan, melt butter over medium low heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for about thirty seconds (DO NOT LET YOUR GARLIC BROWN).

4. Add flour and whisk for three minutes. This is your roux. You want to cook that flour until it develops a nice toasty flavor and you lose all the graininess.

5. When roux has started to brown slightly, add milk in a steady stream, whisking constantly.

6. Add bay leaf and bring heat up to medium high. Whisk constantly until it comes to a boil; reduce heat to low and let liquid simmer for about ten minutes. Whisk occasionally so that milk doesn’t “catch” on the bottom of the pan. Simmer means very small bubbles, barely breaking the surface. 

7. After mixture has thickened, whisk in salt and pepper and remove bay leaf. Pour mixture into a liquid measuring cup. You should have about 2 c. worth. Press plastic wrap to the top until you’re ready to use it (so that a skin doesn’t form.. gross).

8. Pesto! Take about 1/3 c. of your hazelnuts (also called filberts) and chop them. They will be your topping. Put the rest in your food processor. Add your herbs, cheese, oil, salt and pepper. Puree until smooth, scraping down the sides of the processor occasionally. If you find the consistency too dry, add more oil in small increments until you’re happy.

9. In another bowl, combine your egg and ricotta. Scoop out a 1/2 c. of your pesto and add it to your ricotta/egg mixture. Mix until smooth and green!

10. Time for assembly: Start by greasing your baking pan. Next, cover the bottom with a heaping 1/2 c. of the bechamel.

11. Place two noodle sheets on top. Drop a heaping 1/2 c. ricotta mixture on top and smooth over the surface. Top with a layer of eggplant, cutting rounds to fit if necessary (four should cover it well).

12. Make one more layer each of bechamel, pasta, ricotta, and eggplant.

13. Spread with bechemal and cover with remaining two pasta sheets. Spread remaining ricotta mixture and then top with the end of your bechamel.

14. Top with the last of your eggplant. Scatter reserved chopped hazelnuts over top, and then sprinkle parmesan over top.

15. Cover baking dish tightly with oiled foil (oiled side down). Bake in 425 degree oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil and cook for another 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the dish is golden and bubbling.

16. Let cool at least ten minutes before slicing and serving.

*If freezing, let dish come to almost room temperature, or just warm. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and then foil. Freeze for up to 3 months!

*If making ahead, prepare the dish (except for the topping of hazelnuts/parm) and refrigerate for several days. Bake when ready!

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