This meal was partly born out of the beautiful eggplant that I bought from a local vegetable farm. Knowing that my children would never go near the eggplant, I had the idea to make a portion of the dish into a traditional lasagna. It was a perfect pairing because I used the exact same filling ingredients for both sides of this combo dish.
I just love the color of eggplant, don’t you? Did you know the color and vegetable is technically called aubergine? I just love saying that word. Try it with me…….”oh-ber-zheen.”
Get it all sliced up into about 1/4 inch slices.
I then put it through a 3-step breading process. Flour first, then egg wash and lastly, Italian breadcrumbs.
Here is my favorite kitchen helper. My daughter has to stand on a stool to make it all work. Love it!
My favorite part of the eggplant parmigiana is that I bake it, not fry it with oil. I feel like I taste the flavor of the eggplant more and without all the fat and calories of the oil.
Make a slit down each Italian sausage and remove it from the casing.
I then crumble it into a pan and brown it until cooked through.
I used a whole bag of fresh spinach. It looks like a lot, but it will wilt and shrink before your eyes.
Here it is cooking in hot water……
Here is the spinach after cooking. It’s amazing how it cooks down like that.
While you let your spinach cool enough to touch, boil up your lasagna noodles.
This is really the amount of spinach that came out of that whole colander. I don’t know why, but it surprises me every time!! Still!
Give it a good chop.
If you don’t want to go through the trouble of using fresh spinach, feel free to use a package of frozen spinach. It works just as well.
Add it to the ricotta, egg, and spices.
Get it all mixed thoroughly.
Here’s the lovely browned eggplant, out of the oven.
Put down a layer of your favorite pasta sauce.
Here’s my assembly line, all set up and ready to put together.
I used the largest glass pan I own. You can tell about 1/3 was eggplant and 2/3 was pasta.
It’s easiest to spread the ricotta mixture first, then the sausage, then mozzarella and sauce on last.
Continue with the layers until you’re all done. The top layer has more sauce and cheese.
Bake it until your kitchen smells like your Italian grandmother’s house. If you don’t have an Italian grandmother, just pretend. That’s what I did!
Here’s a side shot of the eggplant……I mean aubergine parmigiana!! Delectable, I promise.
Warning: If you eat this right away, make sure you blow on it for a bit or you’re likely to burn the roof of your mouth. I speak from personal experience. But, it was kinda worth it!
2-in-1 Lasagna and Eggplant Parmigiana
1 medium size eggplant, ¼ inch slices
12 lasagna noodles, cooked al dente
3 cups Italian bread crumbs
2 tablespoons water
2 cups flour
5 links sweet Italian sausage, crumbled and cooked
1 bunch spinach, blanched chopped
16 oz ricotta cheese
½ cup parmesan cheese
2 cups mozzarella cheese
1 jar pasta sauce
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
After your eggplant is sliced, cover each piece first in flour, then 2 eggs that have been scrambled with water and lastly the bread crumbs. Lay each slice of eggplant on a baking sheet and bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Set aside.
For your lasagna filling, combine the ricotta cheese, the other 2 eggs, spinach, parmesan, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Set aside.
To assemble this dish, use an 11×14 inch pan or your largest baking dish. Start by pouring enough pasta sauce to cover the bottom of the dish. Lay noodles down on one side and the baked eggplant on the other. Spread on a layer of ricotta mixture, then sausage and mozzarella cheese. Lightly spoon on and spread enough pasta sauce to cover each layer. Continue each layer until you run out of ingredients. For me this was 4 layers of pasta/eggplant and 3 layers of cheese/sausage.
The top layer is pasta and mozzarella cheese only. Bake this at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, until cheese is bubbly and golden brown.