Every year Hubs makes me a special meal to celebrate my birthday. In the early years of our marriage, I would request his ‘Death to Dieters’ lasagna – the most decadent lasagna on Earth: laden with meat, noodles, cream, cheese (aka a heart attack on a plate)!
As time went by, and we became more mindful of staying healthy, my eating habits changed for the better and we endeavour to go meatless more often than not. This year, my birthday dinner request was Hubs’ roasted eggplant lasagna. And you know what? It’s every bit as decadent as his ‘Death to Dieters’ lasagna. It’s not only delicious, it’s gluten-free, meat-free, pasta-free and low in carbs!
Most of all: it’s guilt-free; it’s not only for special occasions, like my birthday, but any day I happen to crave it. And believe me, once you try it, you’ll crave it too! Grab some eggplant and let’s get cooking!
Slicing the eggplant into rounds and peeling off the skin in ribbons makes it easy to portion once it's cooked. Hubs then salts the eggplant to release the moisture; no one wants soggy lasagna!
Roasting the eggplant in the oven caramelizes it and builds flavour.
As the eggplant is roasting, prepare the mushroom sauce and then the cheese layer.
Assemble the layers: mushroom sauce, eggplant, ricotta mixture, remaining eggplant and sauce.
Top with remaining parmesan and finally shredded cheese.
Bake uncovered for 25 to 30 minutes, until the cheese is hot and bubbly. If desired, put under the broiler for 5 minutes to brown. I love the crispy bits; there’s nothing better than a corner piece!
- 3-4 large eggplants — cut crosswise into 3/4-inch thick slices a total of about 42. Note you can leave the skin on, take it off or compromise and cut ribbons
- Avocado oil spray — or 2 1/2 tablespoons of any high smoke point oil divided
- 1/2 tablespoon grapeseed oil or high smoke-point oil
- Sea salt for salting eggplant
- 1 teaspoon pink himalayan salt — divided
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper — divided
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 16 ounces sliced cremini and/or white mushrooms
- 3 cloves garlic — minced
- 1 26-ounce jar marinara pasta sauce of choice (I used an organic sauce)
- 1 17-ounce container ricotta cheese of choice (I used sheep milk)
- 1 10 ounce package frozen chopped spinach — thawed
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan — divided
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup shredded cheese of choice — I used up what I had in the fridge; a 4 cheese blend provolone, mozzarella, romano, edam and a three cheese blend (mozzarella, cheddar, swiss cheese)
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, thyme, or parsley optional
Remove Moisture from Eggplant
- Line sheet plans with paper towels. Sprinkle both sides of the eggplant slices with plenty of salt. Arrange slices in a single layer on the pans. Set aside for .5 – 1.5 hours to let the salt draw out moisture.
- Rinse the salt off the eggplant with water. Let drain in a colander. Return slices to the sheet pans (lined with new paper towel). Remove moisture with paper towels.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a 9×13-inch baking dish with avocado oil spray (or high smoke-point oil of your choice) and set aside.
- Line 3 sheet pans with parchment paper sprayed with oil. Arrange eggplant slices on top.
- Put sheet pans into the oven. Roast eggplant for 15 minutes or until the bottom side is golden. Then flip the slices over, rotate the pans and put them back into the oven to roast for another 15 minutes or until golden on the other side.
- As eggplant is roasting, heat 1/2 tablespoon grapeseed oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add sliced mushrooms and saute until soft, about 7 minutes. Add 1/2 tsp. pink himilayan salt, 1/4 tsp. pepper, and oregano. Then add the minced garlic and cook for another minute until the garlic is fragrant.
- Remove pan from the heat. Add marinara pasta sauce and stir to combine. Set aside until assembly.
- Remove trays of eggplant from oven and reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
- In a large bowl mix the egg, ricotta, 1/4 cup Parmesan, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Mix well, until the mixture is evenly combined.
- Stir in the spinach, using a fork to break it up and distribute it as evenly with the ricotta mixture as possible.
- Spoon half of the mushroom marinara sauce on the bottom of the prepared baking dish and spread it into an even layer.
- Lay 1/2 the eggplant slices on top. Follow by all of the ricotta mixture. Layer on the remainder of the eggplant. Add the remaining mushroom marinara sauce. Finally, top with the remaining ¼ cup parmesan and shredded cheese.
- Bake uncovered for 25 to 30 minutes, until the cheese is hot and bubbly.
- If desired, put under the broiler for 5 minutes to brown.
- Remove from the oven and sprinkle with fresh herbs (optional). Let rest 5 to 10 minutes to set up, then serve.
- This recipe tastes even better the next day when all the flavours meld together. Refrigerate leftovers for up to 3 days (if it lasts that long)! Rewarm in the microwave or covered with foil in a 350 degree F oven, until heated through. I don’t recommend freezing this dish, as eggplant becomes waterlogged when frozen and thawed. You can prepare the ricotta and mushroom sauce layers a day in advance if you prefer. Keep each layer separate in the refrigerator until ready to prepare. Assemble just before baking or up to 4 hours in advance and refrigerate. When you’re ready to bake, let the lasagna stand at room temperature while the oven is preheating.