A few years ago, when waffled hash browns and brownies were all the rage, the question on our minds was often: Will it waffle? But these days, thanks to a heightened focus on low-carb and veggie-packed eating, the question has become: “Will it lasagna?”
I’m fully on board with this trend (I mean, have you seen this zucchini version?) The combination of creamy ricotta, gooey mozzarella, and rich tomato sauce is the ultimate comfort food, so why should traditional pasta sheets get all the glory?
When it comes to eggplant, I’m happy to report that yes, it will lasagna! This pasta-less, low-carb eggplant lasagna is basically a giant eggplant Parmesan without the breading. It’s incredibly easy to make and, let’s face it, you could probably use a few more servings of vegetables in your life.
2 Key Steps for Better Eggplant Lasagna
There are a few key steps for prepping eggplant for layering into a lasagna. Don’t attempt to skip these two prep steps, or you’ll risk ending up with a soggy, soupy eggplant lasagna.
1. Salt the eggplant: You’ll start by slicing the eggplant lengthwise into planks, liberally sprinkling with salt, and setting aside for 15 to 30 minutes. During this time, the salt will draw out the eggplant’s excess moisture, and remove any inherent bitterness.
2. Roast the eggplant: You’ll then pat the eggplant dry, lightly brush it with oil, and roast it just until it’s pliable. Some eggplant lasagna recipes ask you to grill the eggplant slices instead. While this imparts a nice smoky flavor, I find that grilling individual slices is too time-consuming; roasting is hands-off and more convenient since you have to turn on the oven anyway.
Lastly, you’ll build the lasagna, alternating between layers of a ricotta-mozzarella mixture and tomato sauce, using the roasted eggplant slices instead of traditional pasta sheets. The result is a cheesy, saucy, yet light lasagna that’s perfect for late-summer dinners. This dish is slightly less structured than a typical lasagna, but if you ask me, the messiness is part of the fun of eating it.
medium eggplants (about 1 1/2 pounds)
- 1 teaspoon
- 1 tablespoon
extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 (15-ounce) package
- 1 teaspoon
- 1/2 teaspoon
freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 cups
shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
- 1/2 cup
grated Parmesan cheese, divided
- 1 1/2 cups
marinara sauce (about half of a 24-ounce jar)
Finely chopped fresh parsley leaves, for garnish (optional)
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Trim the 3 eggplants and slice lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick planks. Arrange on the prepared baking sheet in a single layer and sprinkle liberally with the 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Let stand for 15 to 30 minutes. You should see tiny moisture bubbles on the eggplant’s surface. Meanwhile, arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 400ºF.
Pat the eggplant slices dry with paper towels to get rid of the moisture and salt. Lightly brush the eggplant with the 1 tablespoon olive oil. Roast until just starting to become pliable, 15 to 20 minutes. Meanwhile, beat the 1 egg in a medium bowl. Add the 15 ounces ricotta, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese, and 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese. Stir to combine.
Remove the eggplant from the oven. Reduce the oven temperature to 375ºF.
Spread about 1/4 cup of the marinara sauce on the bottom on a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Arrange about 6 eggplant slices on the sauce (it’s okay if they overlap a little). Dollop 1/3 of the ricotta mixture on top and gently spread it across the eggplant, followed by a thin layer of marinara. Repeat with 2 more layers of the eggplant, ricotta mixture, and marinara. After the final layer of marinara, sprinkle the lasagna with the remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella and 1/4 cup Parmesan.
Cover the baking dish tightly with aluminum foil. Bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until the cheese is golden brown and bubbly, 15 to 20 minutes more. Let stand at least 15 minutes before serving. Garnish with parsley if desired.
Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 4 days.
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