Preparation: 1 hrs.
Cooking time 35-40 min.
Oh no, not another Lasagna recipe. Well, yes. But a different one. This recipe is actually from my mother, who still lives in Spain. She came about the idea, more out of need to finish of large amounts of Eggplants. She is always buying Eggplant and red bell peppers in bulk, amounts enough to feed an entire army. She will eat a slice of toast with a whole grilled pepper on top. I mean I like them too, but Jeez. As a child I was never a fan of Eggplant, but I learned to appreciate them thru this dish. They get a lovely soft texture but are still firm enough to be recognized with every bite.
This delightful sauce is simmered for hours to fully develop the flavours, the sauce includes bacon and red wine but you can sub the red wine for stock if you prefer. Best even if you make the ragú (the red meat sauce) the day before. The Eggplant or Aubergine, is thinly sliced and grilled with some olive oil. This adds a nice smokey flavour and is then layered between the pasta and sauces. Much like Moussaka, hence the name.
It is some where in between a Moussaka and a Lasagna.
My mother adds All spice to the sauce, which works really well and is not at all overpowering. This recipe is for 6 people, but you can easily double the recipe, make two dishes and freeze one before the oven cooking step. You will need to cover it very well with foil and cling wrap, then it will keep for 3 months in the freezer. When you want to bake it, take it out the evening before and let it thaw in the fridge overnight. Remove all the wrapping and bake as stated in the recipe.
You will need :
An 8″ x 11″ x 3″ Casserole dish
12 sheets of dried Spelt (or regular) Lasagna sheets
Ingredients for the Ragú;
1 tbsp. olive oil
4 oz. smoked bacon, diced
1 medium onion, peeled and diced small
1 celery stalk, chopped fine
1 medium carrot, peeled and grated
2 garlic cloves, peeled and grated or crushed
2 bay leaves
1 lb. minced beef
1 15 oz. can tomatoes
1 15 oz. Passata
2 organic stock cubes, beef or chicken
1 tbsp. nutritional yeast (optional)
1 tbsp. Coconut sugar
1 glass of red wine
2 tsp. dried Basil
2 tsp. dried Oregano
1/2 tsp. Sage
1/2 tsp. Thyme
1/4 tsp. All Spice
2 Bay Leaves
1/4 C. chopped Parsley
1 can of water.
For the Eggplant;
2 Eggplants, washed and sliced 1/4 ” thick
cooking oil spray
For the Bechamel;
3 tbsp. olive oil (or butter)
3 tbsp. Spelt flour
3 1/2 C. Soy milk unsweetened, or a milk of your choice
a good grating of Nutmeg
1 organic stock cube, beef or chicken
1 C. grated cheese, a mix of Parmesan and Mozzarella
Put a large frying pan on high heat with one tablespoon of olive oil. Add the ground beef and the bacon and cook for 7 minutes until brown. Add all the chopped vegetables. Cook for 5 more minutes. Add the stock cubes ( I always crumble them up between my fingers), the coconut sugar and the nutritional yeast. Give it a stir. Add the tomato paste and fry for one minute before adding the glass of red wine. Now add both cans of tomato plus one can of water. Add all the dried herbs and the Parsley. Cover half with a lid and simmer on low heat for about two hours. Check once in a while to see if you need to add more water. Alternatively you can transfer the sauce to a slow cooker. Set on high for about one hour until it bubbles then reduce to low and cook for four hours. When the sauce is done, check for seasoning, add a grinding of pepper and add some salt if necessary. Remove the bay leaves. You should end up with 4 cups of sauce. Add liquid if necessary.
You need to use a pan with a very thick bottom so the sauce doesn;t stick or burn easily. Heat the olive oil and add the flour all at once. Stir in the milk, very little at a time so you do not get any lumps. Stir constantly. Adding milk bit by bit.
You should end up with a silky smooth sauce like this.
Add Nutmeg and the stock cube (crumbled up) and let simmer for about ten minutes to cook the flour. Taste and adjust seasoning. Remove from heat and set aside.
For the Eggplant:
Wash the Eggplants and cut of the crown. Cut in 1/4″slices. Heat a large Griddle pan and spray the pan. Put in enough slices to cover the pan with just one layer of Eggplant. When ready to turn spray the top and turn over the slices. Cook for about 5 minutes on each side. Remove to a plate when done. Repeat with all the slices.
Preheat oven to 400° F.
Oil the Casserole dish generously. Start with a thin layer of sauce, then layer the rest like this;
- lasagna sheets
- Grated cheese
The last layer should just be Lasagna sheets, bechamel and cheese.
Put in to the preheated oven and bake until brown and bubbling, for about 35 minutes.
Remove from oven and let sit for at least ten minutes before cutting.