Eggplant & Ricotta Lasagne
I just realised that there is a chance you may have thought this was a vegetarian lasagne... it is not. Although, if you just use a mince replacement then it absolutely can be, so don't fret over that one. Honestly, this is definitely up there with my top dishes - I love Lasagne and so I always aim to top myself every time I make it.
With how much you're probably drinking right now, you need something to fortify your stomach TRUST ME. This hefty mass of pasta, cheese, and sauce is surely exactly what your body wants...right??? Go oooon, you know I'm sort of right.
If you have a long and shallow baking dish then you'll only need two - three layers of pasta, however, if you use a smaller but deep baking dish, you'll be able to get three - four layers in.
The meat sauce tastes better the longer you reduce it down, trust me!
Don't cook the lasagne sheets before putting them in the baking dish. They will cook in the oven and be perfectly al dente.
If you don't want to use ricotta you could make a bechamel (I have a lasagne recipe for that here anyways).
1 eggplant, thinly sliced into rounds (about half a centimetre thick)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 white onion, diced
3/4 cup of diced mushrooms
1 red bell pepper, diced
6 cloves of garlic, crushed
3 teaspoons of dried oregano
3 teaspoons of dried parsley
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of cracked black pepper
700 grams of minced beef
1 beef stock pot/cube
4 tablespoons of tomato paste
450 grams of pre-made pasta sauce (I use a basic red wine and herbs pasta sauce from Dolmio)
2 bay leaves
1 bunch of fresh basil leaves
8 dry lasagne sheets
450 grams of ricotta
1/2 cup of grated sharp cheddar
1/2 cup of grated mild cheddar
1/2 cup of grated parmesan (plus more for topping)
1/4 cup of red wine (optional)
1/2 cup of roughly chopped basil for serving (optional)
Preheat your oven to 190℃ (374℉).
Lay your eggplant rounds on a lined baking tray, brush the eggplant with a bit of olive oil. Sprinkle over 1 teaspoon of parsley, 1 teaspoon of oregano, a pinch of salt, and a crack of pepper. Place the tray in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until eggplant is fully cooked through then set them aside. Whilst your eggplant is baking, start on your bolognese.
First put the olive oil in a deep pan or pot on a medium-low heat. Once glistening, add the chopped onions and carrots and sauté for 6 minutes, or until softened. Add in your diced mushrooms and pepper and sauté for a further 3-5 minutes. Add in your garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add in your oregano, parsley, salt, and pepper and sautè for 1 minute.
Add your mince meat and pound it down with your spatula or mixing utensil. Lightly brown the mince. Add in your tomato paste and stir through for 1-2 minutes. Add in your pasta sauce, beef stock, bay leaves, and basil. If using red wine, add that in now. Turn the heat on low and leave to simmer for 15-25 minutes (the longer the better the flavour).
Meanwhile, make your ricotta mixture. Mix together the ricotta, cheeses, egg, and a pinch of salt and pepper.
Time to layer your lasagne! Place a few tablespoons of the bolognese mixture on the bottom of a baking dish. Layer your lasagne sheets into a single layer over the bolognese. Then spoon over enough bolognese to completely cover the pasta. Then lay a few rounds of eggplant to cover the bolognese layer. Spoon over some of your ricotta mixture until you mostly cover the eggplant. Repeat this layering until you are at the last of your bolognese. Spoon over the last of your ricotta and then sprinkle the remaining parmesan on the top. Cook in the oven for 20-25 minutes. (If you want to brown the top, after the 20-25 minutes is up, turn your oven to grill and leave until golden and bubbly on top).
Serve lasagne with fresh basil and a big ass glass of red wine.