Lasagna is one of those dishes that can be made in a variety of ways, from the most traditional of recipes to the most embellished and creative recipes. The ingredients you typically find in lasagna are noodles, sauce and cheese, but they don’t all have to be there in order to make a great lasagna! If you surf through lasagna recipes, you’ll find a huge selection of variations and options to choose from. In this recipe, we kept the noodles, sauce and cheese AND we bumped it up a notch with grilled slices of eggplant as well. What else would you expect in a Grilled Eggplant Lasagna? The name says it all, right?
It could be argued that a lasagna that contains eggplant doesn’t need noodles. However, we really enjoyed the rich smokey flavor that the eggplant added and in combination with the noodles was a real winner!
Before cooking eggplant, it’s best to slice, salt, and sweat the eggplant first. Sounds gross, right? It’s not so bad, but it does add time to your preparation, so be sure to plan for that. All you have to do is slice the eggplant and place on a cooling rack (like one you’d use for baked goods). Lightly salt each slice of eggplant and let sit for 15 minutes. The eggplant will literally sweat out beads of excess moisture. That’s what you want. If you don’t see beads of sweat after 15 minutes, you probably didn’t salt it enough. If that’s the case, re-salt and wait an additional 15 minutes. If the eggplant is sweaty, flip over all the slices, lightly salt and let it sweat it out for another 15 minutes. If sweating is successful, go ahead and rinse the salt off and pat dry with paper towels. Then proceed with your recipe.
For this recipe, in order to maximize coverage and to keep the slices from getting too thick, we opted to thinly slice the eggplant long ways, slicing from top to bottom instead of slicing rings. We then brushed on a light layer of olive oil on both sides of the slices and grilled for about 2 minutes per side. We wanted them grilled al dente (not cooked all the way through) since they were going to continue cooking in the lasagna. We didn’t want to end up with eggplant mush – yuck!
Grilled Eggplant Lasagna
- 2 lbs eggplant sliced long ways
- 8 oz lasagna noodles
- 32 oz marinara sauce
- 8 oz ricotta cheese
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley chopped
- 16 oz mozzarella cheese shredded
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese shredded
Slice the eggplant long ways (from top to bottom), approximately 1/8" thick and place on a cooling rack (like one you'd use for baked goods).
Lightly salt each slice of eggplant and let sit for 15 minutes. Allow the eggplant to literally sweat out beads of excess moisture. (If you don't see beads of sweat after 15 minutes, you probably didn't salt it enough. If that's the case, re-salt and wait an additional 15 minutes.)
If the eggplant is sweaty, flip over all the slices, lightly salt and let it sweat it out for another 15 minutes.
Rinse the salt off and pat dry with paper towels.
Cook Lasagna Noodles
While the eggplant is sweating, boil salted water in a large pot and cook 8 oz noodles per directions on the package.
Once cooked, carefully drain the water and lay out the noodles on sheets of wax paper to keep them from sticking. Set aside.
Prep Ricotta Cheese
While the eggplant is sweating and the noodles are boiling, chop parsley and mix into ricotta cheese in a small bowl.
Cover and keep in refrigerator until ready to use.
Assemble the Lasagna
Preheat oven to
Spread 1/2 cup of marinara sauce into the bottom of a 9" x 13" casserole dish to keep the noodles from sticking.
Add 3-4 lasagna noodles to create the first layer.
Dot with half the ricotta cheese mixture and spread with a butter knife. This will be a light layer and won't be uniform.
Add a layer of 4-6 slices of eggplant (depending on size). Don't overlap the eggplant.
Top with half the marinara sauce and half the mozzarella cheese to cover.
Repeat layers of noodles, ricotta cheese mixture, eggplant, marinara sauce, mozzarella, and top with parmesan cheese.
Cover with foil and bake 35 minutes.
Remove foil and bake an additional 10 minutes to fully melt and lightly brown the cheese on top.
Let rest for 5-10 minutes, cut and serve.
Have you tried this Grilled Eggplant Lasagna? Snap a pic of your creation and share on social with #vegetariant.