Veggie Eggplant Lasagna

Veggie Eggplant Lasagna

I made this lasagna while my niece Sophia was visiting me here in South Africa.  It was a really fun bonding experience being able to cook together.  After making it we shared this flavorful dish with my husband Terry and friends.  It was a hit!  This is on my keeper list of  recipes that I make often.  You can also make this ahead and cook it the next day.

Vegetable Noodles

  • 2 large eggplant, peeled & sliced longwise into 1/4 inch slices
  • salt and pepper
  • baking paper

Ricotta Mixture

  • 2 cups ricotta cheese (my homemade ricotta here)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 spring (green) onions, chopped
  • 3 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup fresh parmesan, shredded

Veggie Sauce

  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2-3 carrots, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 4-5 medium zucchini, sliced and halved
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • any leftover eggplant, chopped
  • 1/2 Tbl. oregano
  • 1/2 Tbl. basil
  • 1/2 Tbl. thyme
  • 1/2-1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 300 grams/ 10 oz. frozen, chopped spinach
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 350 ml./ 12 oz. tomato sauce
  • 1 can (390 gm.) diced tomatoes
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 Tbl. oil (I use macadamia nut oil because it can endure high heat)

Preheat oven to 220 degrees C/ 425 degrees F.  Line cookie sheet with baking paper and lay out eggplant slices side by side. You may need 2 trays.  Season with salt and pepper.  Bake 5 minutes then flip each slice over and bake 5 more mins. Remove from oven and set aside.  Lower oven to 190 C/ 375F.

To make cheese mixture:  blend ricotta, egg and  green (spring) onions.

For veggie sauce:  saute onion and carrots in the 2 Tbl. oil until it begins to soften.  Add garlic, zucchini, red bell pepper and leftover eggplant, if any. Cook about 5 minutes till softened.  Add spinach, tomatoes, spices and wine.  Simmer uncovered for about 15-20 minutes until all the vegetables are soft and sauce has reduced a bit.  Season with salt and pepper.

To Assemble: 1-Spread 1/3 of veggie sauce in bottom of 9″ x 13″ glass or stone pan.      2-Layer  1/2 eggplant slices, 1/2 ricotta mixture, 1/3 mozzarella and parmesan.                  3-Repeat layers. 4-Add the last layer of sauce, then top with mozzarella and parmesan.   Spray some foil with cooking oil spray and cover dish with foil, oiled sided down.  Bake at 190C/375F for 1 hour.  Remove foil and bake 10-15 mins more to slightly toast cheese. Let sit for about 10 mins before cutting into squares to serve.

Yummers!

Foodie Mama

 

 

Easy Homemade Ricotta Cheese

Easy Homemade Ricotta Cheese

Many people don’t realize how simple making ricotta can be.  I have never purchased store bought ricotta again after I discovered how to make my own ricotta.  My family enjoys the dishes I make using this easy recipe.  Some examples include: Veggie Eggplant Lasagna and as a Pizza topping.  I use all organic grass-fed milk and cream to keep it healthy.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Liters organic grass-fed full cream milk
  • 1 cup organic cream
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 lemons squeezed to equal 1/4 cup juice
  • large strainer lined with cheese cloth

In a large sauce pan place milk, cream and salt. Attach a thermometer to the side of your pan to keep an eye on the temperature. Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly.  When the thermometer reaches 85C/185F.  Add the lemon juice and stir. Do not allow the mixture to boil.  Lower heat while stirring until you see curds forming and the whey separating. Remove from heat and let it cool for about 15 minutes.

Place your prepared strainer lined with cheese cloth over a large bowl.  Slowly pour the cheese into the strainer.  Let it sit for 15-30 minutes.  The longer you drain it,  the dryer it will become.  You could drain it for up to an hour if you want more firm cheese.  Move the ricotta into a glass container with a lid to store in the refrigerator, It will firm up even more after it cools.  You can use your cheese immediately or store for later.

Yummers!

Foodie Mama