I loooooooovvvvveee lasagna! I just don’t (always) love all the carbs that come with it.
Lasagna reminds me of my childhood, and I remember getting all giddy with excitement every time my mother would make it! It was always such a treat! But, even though it’s one of my favourite comfort foods, it’s not a dish I find myself eating a lot now because it can be so heavy. I mean, the point of a good lasagna is layers and layers of ooey gooey, cheesy goodness, right?! However, if I ate it too often, my waistline would surely expand!
Solution: eggplant lasagna. Well, partial solution. This is a three cheese eggplant lasagna, after all, and I’m not about to suggest it’s a calorie-free dish! But, if you can spare some of the calories by cutting the carbs, then why not?! (Although, between us, if you did want the carbs, you could always swap the eggplant for lasagna noodles to make a regular lasagna 😉 )
Oh, and not to mention that, since my recipe doesn’t include breadcrumbs, it’s gluten-free! And to counterbalance some of the calories from the cheese, there’s fibre added from the spinach and nutrients from the mushrooms! On the issue of fibre, I like to leave the skin on the eggplant, rather than peeling it off. I like the texture and it’s better for you, but it’s a matter of personal preference.
That’s What Cheese Said
So, what cheese to use for your eggplant lasagna? Again, a matter of personal preference. But, the 2 cheeses I can’t live without for an eggplant lasagna (or any lasagna, for that matter) are: mozzarella and ricotta cheese.
First, the mozzarella. The rule of thumb is usually ‘fresh is best’, but for eggplant lasagna, I prefer low-moisture mozzarella. Fresh mozzarella has a much higher water content and may make the dish too moist. When coupled with the water released from the eggplant and the mushrooms, you may end up with a big, soupy mess! While I love me some fresh mozza for salads and crostini, I opted for the low-moisture variety here because it’s better for baking. Also, I like to buy the balls of mozzarella and cut into rounds, rather than grate the large blocks (just looks prettier).
Next, I love the texture and taste of ricotta in an eggplant lasagna – there’s no substitute. Third, I opted for freshly grated grana padano. I happen to like it slightly better than parmigiano reggiano, it’s more aged counterpart. But either way, avoid the pre-grated crap you find at the grocery store (which may contain sawdust – no lie!). Get the real stuff and grate it, yourself!
To Cover or Not to Cover, That is the Question
Okay, last little note before I move on to the actual recipe: the method of baking the eggplant lasagna. Some recipes call for covering with aluminium foil, and some don’t. When I made this over the weekend, I actually made 2 eggplant lasagnas…you know, in the name of “research”. I covered one eggplant lasagna while baking and left the other uncovered. The results definitely varied, and it’s better to go with foil, since the eggplant becomes much softer in texture. The uncovered eggplant lasagna, while equally delicious, was more firm and dry.
Okay, now that I’ve rambled on about the components of this eggplant lasagna for long enough, here’s the recipe. And scroll to the bottom for more pictures, as always (but warning: I guarantee they’re going to make you hungry!).