Aubergine lasagne

  • For the lasagne
  • 2 large aubergines, sliced lengthwise 2 cm thick (8 slices)
  • 5 tbsp olive oil, divided, plus more for baking dish
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 100 g thinly sliced cremini mushrooms
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp freshly chopped thyme leaves
  • 1 (425g) container whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 3 large eggs
  • 80 g grated Parmesan, divided
  • 2 tbsp freshly chopped oregano leaves
  • 500 ml Nona's Marinara Sauce, recipe follows
  • For the marinara sauce
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 60 ml plus 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 50 g fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tbsp freshly picked oregano leaves
  • 1 (800g) tinned crushed tomatoes
For the lasagne:

1) Preheat oven to 200C/Gas mark 6. Arrange sliced aubergine in a single layer on 2 sheet pans. Brush both sides with 45 ml oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast the aubergine until it is soft and golden. Turn slices halfway through, about 25 minutes.

2) Meanwhile, in a medium skillet add the remaining oil and the sliced mushrooms. Saute until soft for about 7 minutes. Add the minced garlic and chopped thyme. Cook for another 2 minutes. Once the mushrooms are cooked, remove and set aside to cool.

3) In a large bowl add the ricotta, eggs, 40 g Parmesan, oregano, mushrooms, 2 tsp of salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Mix well and set aside.

For the marinara sauce:

1) Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas mark 6.

2) Peel 5 cloves garlic and place them in a square of foil. Sprinkle the cloves with salt and pepper and drizzle with 2 tbsp olive oil. Wrap up the foil and place it directly on the oven rack. (Be sure that the foil packet is secure so no oil will leak out.)

3) Roast the garlic until it's brown and tender, about 25 minutes. Allow to cool enough to touch and squeeze the garlic from the skins. Set aside.

4) Saute onions and carrots with the oil in a medium saucepan. Add tomato paste and stir well. This will cook off the tomato puree and give a nice orangy color. Cook for about 10 minutes. When vegetables are softened, add the roasted garlic, salt, pepper, basil, oregano and stir together until incorporated. Pour in the tomatoes.

5) Fill the empty tin with water and add it to the pan. Bring to a boil then lower the heat to a simmer. Simmer for 1 hour, uncovered. Stir occasionally. Once sauce is ready carefully pour it into the food processor and puree until smooth.

Tips:

- Pour into ice cube trays and freeze for future use. By putting them in ice cube trays then popping them out into a resealable bag you can control how much you want to use each time - easier to manage.

- Since tomatoes can be very acidic, using carrots and roasted garlic brings a sweetness to the marinara.

Yield: 750 ml

To finish:

1) Brush an 20 cm baking dish with oil.

2) Spread half of the marinara sauce on the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Lay 4 slices on top followed by the ricotta mixture. Lay another 4 slices of aubergine and finish with marinara sauce. Top with the remaining 40 g parmesan. Bake until golden brown, at 180C/Gas mark 4, for 30 minutes.

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