2-in-1 Lasagna and Eggplant Parmigiana

eggplantlasagna24

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.

eggplantlasagna01

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.”

eggplantlasagna02Get it all sliced up into about 1/4 inch slices.

eggplantlasagna03I then put it through a 3-step breading process.  Flour first, then egg wash and lastly, Italian breadcrumbs.

eggplantlasagna04Here is my favorite kitchen helper.  My daughter has to stand on a stool to make it all work.  Love it!

eggplantlasagna07My 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.

eggplantlasagna08Make a slit down each Italian sausage and remove it from the casing.

eggplantlasagna09I then crumble it into a pan and brown it until cooked through.

eggplantlasagna10I used a whole bag of fresh spinach.  It looks like a lot, but it will wilt and shrink before your eyes.

eggplantlasagna11Here it is cooking in hot water……

eggplantlasagna12Here is the spinach after cooking.  It’s amazing how it cooks down like that.

eggplantlasagna13While you let your spinach cool enough to touch, boil up your lasagna noodles.

eggplantlasagna14This 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!

eggplantlasagna15Give 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.

eggplantlasagna16Add it to the ricotta, egg, and spices.

eggplantlasagna18Get it all mixed thoroughly.

eggplantlasagna17Here’s the lovely browned eggplant, out of the oven.

eggplantlasagna19Put down a layer of your favorite pasta sauce.

eggplantlasagna20Here’s my assembly line, all set up and ready to put together.

eggplantlasagna21I used the largest glass pan I own.  You can tell about 1/3 was eggplant and 2/3 was pasta.

eggplantlasagna22It’s easiest to spread the ricotta mixture first, then the sausage, then mozzarella and sauce on last.

eggplantlasagna23Continue with the layers until you’re all done.  The top layer has more sauce and cheese.

eggplantlasagna24Bake 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!

eggplantlasagna25Here’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

4 eggs

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

Pinch nutmeg

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.

Advertisements

Chicken Picatta Pasta

It is HOT!  Southern California has been having a heat wave of triple digit temps all week.  And, the hotter it is, the less I want to use my oven, let alone be in the kitchen.  So, I found this refreshing pasta recipe that did not use the oven.

I did have to be in the kitchen though, but not for too long.

This is diced chicken breast, seasoned and browned nicely.

Pull it out when it’s done and set aside for now.

I’ve diced the aromatic shallots and garlic and gotten together the other ingredients for the dish.

Saute shallots and garlic in olive oil and butter.

After adding in the wine and reducing, add in some flour to make a thick sauce.  Thin out the sauce with chicken broth.

Stir in the capers.

Once all the flavors have had some time to marry, add the chicken back in and a squeeze of lemon.  Add in some penne pasta and you’ve got a simple and quick meal, made all in one pan.  You gotta love only having to clean up one pan, right?

Here’s is the very aromatic and savory chicken piccata pasta, garnished with some slices of green onion.  I love the creamy sauce with the hint of sour lemon juice and capers.  Refreshing for a hot summer night.  A tall glass of lemonade would complete the meal for me!

Chicken Picatta Pasta Toss

Adapted from Rachel Ray

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/2 pounds chicken breast , cut into 1-inch pieces

Salt and pepper

1 1/2 tablespoons butter

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 shallot, chopped

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 cup white wine

1 lemon, juiced

1 cup chicken broth or stock

2 tablespoons capers, drained

1 pound penne rigate pasta, cooked to al dente

Chopped scallions, for garnish

Heat a deep nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add a tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil and the chicken to the pan. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Brown chicken until lightly golden all over, about 5 to 6 minutes. Remove chicken from pan and return the skillet to the heat. Reduce heat to medium. Add another tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter, the garlic and shallots to the skillet. Saute garlic and shallots 3 minutes. Add flour and cook 2 minutes. Whisk in wine and reduce liquid 1 minute. Whisk lemon juice and broth into sauce. Stir in capers. When the liquid comes to a bubble, add remaining 1/2 tablespoon butter to the sauce to give it a little shine. Add chicken back to the pan and heat through, 1 to 2 minutes. Toss hot pasta with chicken and sauce and serve. Adjust salt and pepper, to your taste. Top with fresh snipped scallions.

Farfalle Pasta Salad

I had a version of this pasta salad for the first time at my monthly scrapbooking club get-together.  My friend Tina is known in our group for her pasta salad.  That night I think all the ladies talked more about this pasta salad than we did scrapbooking, or anything else for that matter.

This is a very pretty dish with lots of color and texture.  It’s also great because you can serve it cold or at room temperature.  This would be great at your next church potluck too!!  Just saying……..

Tina’s original version does not include the use of meat, but since this pasta salad was the main dish I was serving to my family for dinner, I had to throw in some protein.  Here I have salami, turkey and ham.

Dice up the colby jack cheese.

Here is the farfalle pasta all cooled down and tossed in the creamy sauce.

My Italian friend told me that farfalle actually means butterfly, not bow-tie.  I had no idea for all those years.

So here’s the butterfly pasta!

Add in the cilantro and fresh tomatoes for freshness.  In this pasta are also black beans, sweet corn, shredded carrots and black olives but I forgot to snap some shots of that.  Please forgive me, thanks!

Farfalle Pasta Salad

 

12 oz box farfalle (bowtie) pasta

1 can sweet corn, drained

1 can black beans, drained

1 can black olives , drained

1 cup ham, cubed

1 cup turkey, cubed

1 cup salami, cubed

1 cup cheese, cubed

1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

1 bunch cilantro, chopped

1 carrot, shredded

 

Dressing:

4 tbsp mayonnaise

1 tsp sugar

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar

1 envelope of Italian dressing

3 cloves pressed garlic

2 tbsp olive oil

salt & pepper to taste

 

Cook pasta in salted water until al dente, drain and cool.  Meanwhile, combine the dressing ingredients in a large bowl.  Add the noodles once they have cooled off some and then toss.  Add remaining ingredients.  Allow pasta salad to sit for one hour refrigerated for flavors to marry.

Gnocchi with Butter Thyme Sauce

This is my first time making gnocchi and we had it for dinner tonight.  They were nice and pillowy and the recipe used enough butter to grease a runway.  I will definitely cut back on the butter next time.

I chose this recipe over others because of the use of thyme.  It’s one of my favorite herbs.  I also have three thyme plants growing like wild in my herb garden, so I thought I’d get some use out of them.

This was a great way to use up my leftover baked potatoes from our steak and potatoes dinner last night too. I consider myself a very conscientious recycler, so I recycled those potatoes.  I don’t think that helps the environment, but it helped my taste buds a lot!

 

 

Mix together the potatoes, egg, flour and salt.

Roll into a dough ball and cut into four sections.

Flour your counter top generously and roll the dough into a log.

Cut 1-inch pieces from the log and roll each nugget on the back of a floured fork.

 

You get these nice ridges that help catch the butter thyme sauce.  It’s okay if they don’t all look the same.  I personally like the rustic homemade look of gnocchi.  Do make sure that they are roughly the same size so they cook evenly though.

This buttery soft pasta is your reward for all the hard work.  Recycling really shouldn’t be this difficult, but is soooo worth the effort!

Gnocchi with Butter Thyme Sauce

from Giada De Laurentiis

 

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

1 (1-pound) russet potato

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 large egg, beaten to blend

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup shaved Pecorino Romano

 

Cook the butter in a heavy medium skillet over medium heat until it begins to brown, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add the thyme leaves. Set aside.

Pierce the potato all over with a fork. Microwave the potato until tender, turning once, about 12 minutes. Cut the potato in half and scoop the flesh into a large bowl; discard the skin. Using a fork, mash the potato well. Mash in the salt and pepper. Mix in 3 tablespoons of the egg; discard the remaining egg. Sift the flour over the potato mixture and knead just until blended.

Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Roll each piece between your palms and the work surface into a 1/2-inch-diameter rope (about 20 inches long). Cut the dough into 1-inch pieces. Roll each piece of dough over a wooden paddle with ridges or over the tines of a fork to form grooves in the dough.

Cook the gnocchi in a large pot of boiling salted water until the gnocchi rise to the surface, about 1 minute. Continue cooking until the gnocchi are tender, about 4 minutes longer. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the gnocchi to the hot thyme-butter in the skillet. Toss to coat.

Spoon the gnocchi and butter sauce into shallow bowls. Top with the Pecorino and serve.