Meatless 3 Cheese Eggplant Lasagna Recipe ~ No Pasta Needed
In our garden this year I planted three Chinese eggplant seedlings purchased from the nursery. Also sometimes called Japanese eggplants, I had successfully grown them in our former home with great success. For some reason, the nurseries around here in Houston do not always carry them, so I was delighted when I found them this year. They often carry the more common larger varieties to be planted instead.
I nestled them among some of our flowers and herbs in a bright sunny spot just outside our kitchen in the backyard. We have so much shade from large oak trees that good garden sunny areas are at a premium.
These three little plants, now supported with tomato cages, are growing large and are starting to produce in earnest. So I have gotten creative in ways to use these longer skinnier forms of eggplant which are so flavorful. This 3 cheese pasta-less vegetarian lasagna is the happy result of one of my latest creations.
3 Cheese Eggplant Lasagna without Pasta
Photos of my Chinese eggplantsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Nutrition of eggplant computed as if cut into 1 inch cubes
|Serving size: 1 cup|
|Calories from Fat||0|
|% Daily Value *|
|Fat 0 g|
|Saturated fat 0 g|
|Unsaturated fat 0 g|
|Carbohydrates 5 g||2%|
|Sugar 0 g|
|Fiber 2 g||8%|
|Protein 1 g||2%|
|Cholesterol 0 mg|
|* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.|
One cup of raw eggplant in addition to being very low in calories, provides a number of B Vitamins including the following percentages of a daily diet consisting of 2,000 calories:
- Niacin 2.5%
- Pantothenic acid 2.1%
- Riboflavin 1.6%
- Thiamin 2.8%
- B-6, 3.4%
B vitamins cannot be stored in the body, so must be ingested on a daily basis to maintain normal immune functions as well as supporting a healthy metabolism, skin, hair and muscle tone. Any excess is excreted in the urine.
Eggplant is also a source of other vitamins and minerals like A, C, copper, manganese and magnesium to mention a few. It even contains a small amount of iron.
So it pays to become familiar with this fleshy, meaty textured food source which is native to India. It is actually considered to be a fruit, like it's nightshade cousin, the tomato. Personally, I still think of them as vegetables despite their classifications to the contrary.
Cooking Tips: How to Pick Chinese Eggplant
Eggplant can soak up a lot of oil when being cooked if not careful, so I experimented and oven roasted it with only a light spraying of Pam to cut down on calories in this recipe. Being roasted in the oven also added a rich sweet flavor to the final dish along with the roasted onions and tomatoes that I also utilized.
Cooked eggplant nicely melds with other flavors of things cooked with it so it is a very friendly mild flavored food that can be used in many different dishes.
Assembling some of the ingredients...Click thumbnail to view full-size
Ingredients for this 3 cheese eggplant lasagna
- 5 large Chinese eggplants
- 20 to 25 Cherry tomatoes
- 1 large sweet onion
- garlic chives, small handful, to taste
- Italian flat leafed parsley, small handful, to taste
- fresh basil leaves, small handful, to taste
- 12 to 16 ounces jarred or homemade marinara sauce
- about 20 ounces ricotta cheese
- 1 1/2 cups shredded mozarella cheese
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Pam vegetable spray
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup plain breadcrumbs
Preparing the vegetables for this recipe.Click thumbnail to view full-size
Preparing the ricotta cheese mixture
Instructions on how to prepare and assemble this 3 cheese eggplant lasagna...
- After washing the vegetables and drying them, start by cutting the Chinese eggplants in half and then in 1/4 inch slices lengthwise.
- Cut the cherry tomatoes in thirds and the onion in half and then in slices.
- Spray several pans with Pam and distribute the eggplant in a single layer on the bottom with the other vegetables distributed evenly on top of it. Salt and pepper and again spray the top with Pam.
- Roast the vegetables in a 375 degree Fahrenheit oven for about 20 minutes. Take out and let cool.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, the beaten eggs, 1/2 of the Parmesan cheese and the chopped herbs.
- Start the layering process in a large oven proof casserole dish starting with a smear of marinara sauce on the bottom of the dish after spraying the casserole dish with more Pam to prevent it from sticking.
- Layer the vegetables, alternating with the ricotta cheese mixture, breadcrumbs, some shredded mozarella cheese, and more marinara sauce.
- Create at least 3 layers ending with a few more slivered basil leaves near the top and ending with mozarella cheese and the remaining Parmesan cheese.
- Bake in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for 1 hour. Take out and cover with aluminum foil and let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes before slicing and eating.
- Garnish with more fresh basil or parsley if desired and most of all...enjoy!
Layering the lasagnaClick thumbnail to view full-size
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We grow the fresh herbs used in this recipe in our garden along with other types of herbs. If you do not have access to garlic chives, just use some fresh minced garlic or garlic powder as a substitute. I would recommend using the fresh parsley and basil, but if you cannot find them, substitute dried.
By roasting the vegetables first, they shrink in size a bit, become more intense in their sweet flavors and lose some of their moisture content. Thus, by not overdoing the amount of marinara sauce (or Italian sauce of your choice) in this recipe, your meatless lasagna will set up nicely even without pasta noodles to absorb moisture.
Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did in creating it and we did in tasting it. Trust me, it is even better than it looks!
3 Cheese Vegetarian Lasagna - No Pasta Needed!
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Will you be giving this 3 cheese lasagna recipe a try?
Have a sweet tooth?
Here is another recipe for you using Chinese eggplant. A healthy version of one of my favorites...Eggplant with Garlic Sauce.
© 2012 Peggy Woods