These past few weeks I've really been reminded of what an important support system colleagues can be, especially as they offer encouragement over professional hurdles. Work has pushed me to a breaking point recently, as I strive to make my progressive (and, sometimes, radical) vision of education a reality at the institutional level. (The kids, however, are amazing and continue to blow me away every day by their ideas. This week, they've been tackling solutions to the issue of gross income inequality in the U.S. after learning how it caused collapse of the Roman Republic.)
One colleague, Jim, brought me lunch the other day - some homemade eggplant and asparagus lasagna that was cheesy and delicious. I was inspired to try out a recipe makeover that adapted such a good comfort food for those on a low-cal, gluten-free, paleo, or vegetarian diet.
Perhaps significantly less cheesy, this version of lasagna is super rustic - almost like a combination of bruschetta and lasagna. It doesn't use traditional tomato sauce, but roasted tomatoes layered between crusty pieces of baked eggplant. It's very light on the cheese, but there's definitely enough for richness without becoming greasy. I thought it offered a nice combination of crusty eggplant, chunky tomato, and creamy ricotta. More rustic fall dishes to come later this week!
- 2 large eggplants
- 2 1/2 cups organic corn flour or corn meal
- 1 cup grated parmesan
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 1 large yellow onion, sliced
- 6 roma tomatoes, cut in sixths
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 large cans (about 60 oz.) whole stewed tomatoes, drained well and quartered
- 3 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
- 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 1 cup basil, roughly chopped
- 3 tbsp. olive oil
- 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp. dried oregano
- 15 oz. ricotta cheese
- salt and pepper for seasoning
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Toss all the tomatoes, onion, 3/4 of the basil, oregano, rosemary, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper, and spread evenly on a lined baking pan (or two). Roast in the oven for 30-40 minutes.
While the tomatoes roast, cut the eggplant into thin (1/4-1/3 inch) slices. Beat the eggs in a wide bowl, and mix the corn flour/meal with 3 tbsp. of the parmesan cheese (and season with salt and pepper). Dredge each slice of eggplant in the egg wash and corn flour/meal. Place on a baking sheet in a single layer, and add to the oven. Bake until golden, about 25 minutes, turning slices midway.
Blend the ricotta cheese with the remaining basil (in a food processor, if possible) and season with salt and pepper.
When the eggplant is done, let it cool a bit, then spread a layer of ricotta on each slice.
Place a layer of eggplant on the bottom of a large baking dish, then spread half the roasted tomatoes on top and sprinkle with a third of the remaining parmesan. Repeat the layers of eggplant, tomatoes, and parmesan, finishing with just a layer of eggplant and parmesan on top.