with its layers of hearty bolognese, creamy ricotta, melty mozzarella, & grilled eggplant, eggplant lasagna the perfect make-ahead dish for a busy weeknight. with less than one lasagna noodle per serving enjoy all the best flavors of lasagna with none of the guilt.
so…i totally have a confession to make.
when i told you a few weeks back about all why september is the best month ever, i left out one very, very important reason: the return of primetime tv.
hi, my name is jess & i am a total tv junkie.
i think my love for tv series really began back in my restaurant days. i lived alone in the cutest little studio, was too broke to afford covering a cable bill all on my own, & worked nights & weekends – a schedule opposite to that of any of my friends & family. casually watching a couple episodes on netflix while getting chores done around my apartment was the best way to stay busy & not get too lonely.
it really is a very uncool vice to confess. all of the cool kids these days are busy being social or active on weeknights to watch tv. they’re going to happy hours, yoga classes, getting some fresh air after a 9-5 cooped up in the office or unwinding over dinner plans with friends & loved ones.
i, on the other hand, race home after work, squeeze in a quick workout or crank out some household chores, & unwind by getting wayyyy too emotionally invested in the storylines of the shows i’ve been watching for years.
grey’s anatomy. (yes, after almost 10 years, i still watch it. every. single. week.)
law & order. (olivia benson is my bae.)
how to get away with murder. (three words: viola friggin’ davis.)
suits. (teehee between chris & i, i’m not sure who has the bigger crush on harvey specter. actually, i have a pretty good guess. *swoon*.)
dancing with the stars. (ugh, i know, so lame but i can’t help it. #guiltypleasure.)
don’t even get me started about the various miniseries on showtime & hbo, netflix & hulu exclusives, & the fact that keifer sutherland is returning to primetime this year(!!!!).
anyway, what i’m getting at here is weeknight dinners have to be delicious but also come together quickly & with little effort. & fitting all of these criteria, this eggplant lasagna is the PERFECT weeknight dinner solution.
grilled eggplant is layered with hearty bolognese, creamy ricotta, & melty mozzarella, & topped with a sprinkle of parmesan.
no big deal, just all of the best things in life.
the flavors of each layer certainly boldly stand on their own, but they meld together into the most beautifully balanced bite: smoke from the grilled eggplant, rich earthiness from the bolognese, creamy dreaminess from the ricotta & mozz, & an extra punch of saltiness from the parm.
are you drooling yet? (you should be.)
brace yourself, though, i’ve yet to disclose the best part: enjoying all of this deliciousness requires ZERO guilt. yup. none of it.
the eggplant layers do dual duty, amping up this lasagna with a full serving of veggies & cutting down the amount of pasta needed for this lasagna down into 1/3 (there is less than 1 sheet of pasta per serving!). you can easily lighten it up further by using low-fat ricotta & mozz & by turning your bolognese into a fauxlognese (swap out that pork or beef for ground turkey).
oh, & it is SO easy, too. all you have to do is make a big batch of my bolognese & assemble this lasagna in advance (#mealprepsunday, anyone?). when you get home from work all you need to do is is preheat your oven & let it bake for about 55 minutes – so low maintenance! finish off your eggplant lasagna with a quick five-ten minute broil to turn the top into crisp golden-brown heaven, & you will have yourself the best lasagna you’ve ever made at home. (with absolutely no guilt whatsoever.)
what are you waiting for!?!
now that i’ve disclosed my two biggest vices in life (namely eggplant lasagna & tv), what are your guilty pleasures? any tv shows you’re dying to watch this fall? what does fall comfort food look like to you? let me know in the comments below – i’d love to chat!!
this recipe calls for a batch of bolognese sauce. you can find my recipe here. it’s lightened up, SO easy to make, & really damn good.
- 1/2 batch of playswellwithbutter bolognese
- 2 large eggplants
- 1 T oil
- 1 egg
- 1 C ricotta
- 1 T fresh thyme
- 2 C shredded mozzarella
- 3 sheets of dried lasagna noodles, uncooked
- 1/2 C parmesan cheese
- Preheat grill over medium-high heat.
- Slice the eggplants into rounds, about 1/4 inch thick. Take your time to make sure they're uniform, clean cuts.
- Brush each round with olive oil & sprinkle with salt & pepper, about 1/2 tsp each. (If you don't want to fuss with oil & a brush you can easily spritz them with cooking spray & get the job done.)
- Grill eggplants over medium heat for 5 minutes on each side.
- In a small bowl, mix ricotta, thyme, egg, & 1/2 tsp (sprinkle of) kosher salt & stir until incorporated. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Spray an 11x7 rectangular baking dish with cooking spray. If you do not have an 11x7, a 9x9 square baking dish does the same trick.
- Have bolognese, eggplant, ricotta mixture, cheeses, & lasagna noodles out & ready to go.
- With a large spoon or ladle, spread a thin layer of bolognese along the bottom of the baking dish. You want just enough to barely coat the bottom of the baking dish. This will prevent sticking.
- Gently arrange eggplant into first layer. Overlap the eggplant so there are no holes in the layer. Depending on the size of your eggplant, you'll need about 6-8 slices for a good layer. See photos above for visual.
- Ladle & spread 1/3 remaining bolognese (about 2 C) over the eggplant.
- Ladle & spread 1/3 ricotta (about 1/3 C) over bolognese layer.
- Sprinkle 1/3 of mozzarella (about 2/3 C) over the ricotta layer.
- Arrange 3 uncooked pasta sheets over the mozzarella layer so they are well-aligned & cover the ricotta layer thoroughly without gaps, but avoid overlapping (this will affect cook time).
- Repeat the layering steps 3-5, ladling 1/2 remaining bolognese (about 2 C) over uncooked pasta layer, 1/2 remaining ricotta (about 1/3 C) over bolognese layer, & 1/2 remaining mozzarella (about 2/3 C) over ricotta layer.
- Repeat steps 2-5, layering one last layer of eggplant, bolognese, ricotta, & mozzarella.
- Finish with a generous sprinkle of parmesan cheese, about 1/2 C.
- Cover with tin foil & bake, store in the fridge, or freeze for later.
- Set the baking dish on a sheet pan.
- Bake the lasagna covered at 400 degrees for about 55 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through (this helps facilitate even cooking, especially if your oven has hot spots).
- After 55 minutes, remove the tin foil. The lasagna should be bubbling. Turn the broiler on high & broil for 5 minutes, rotating pan halfway through. The cheese will turn golden brown & give the top of the lasagna.
- Allow lasagna to cool for ~10 minutes before slicing & serving.
- Serve with extra parmesan cheese, fresh basil, & a hearty red wine. Mangia!
- This recipe is SO easy to double up, you just need one additional baking dish. Assemble both lasagnas at the same time & when you throw one into the oven, toss the other into the freezer (or give it to a neighbor, friend, etc.). If covered well with foil, it will keep for about 2 months. Pull it out the night before you'd like to serve it & let it thaw in the fridge.
- While I like the structure the pasta adds to the lasagna, you can eliminate this layer altogether by replacing it with another eggplant layer. Just prep 1 additional eggplant.