I had an idea for a casserole the other day, and it set my mouth to watering just thinking about it. I envisioned lasagna, with veggies replacing the noodles, so I could eat it without the guilt of carbs. I decided thinly sliced eggplant or zucchini would be perfect, but I don’t like marinara on squash-like vegetables, so I decided to substitute cheese. I almost want to call it veggie lasagna, but there’s already something called that, which I don’t like, so for now we’re calling it eggplant casserole.
I wish I could brag about this one, the way I do about most of my recipes, Sadly, I do not like eggplant, and this recipe did not change that. Hubby LOOOVES eggplant, and he loved the casserole, so there you go. Next time I will use zucchini and I’m sure I’ll like it better.
Ingredients (for how I made it. Variations will be listed below): 3 large eggplants, some Italian herbs (I used garlic and basil), 1 package mozzarella (I used about 9 oz, but more is always good), 1 diced onion, 6 strips bacon (turkey bacon works great, gets really crispy), bulb garlic, about 7 or 8 sliced mushroom, some olive oil, bread crumbs, and probably around 24 oz of riccota cheese (I used 1 1/2 containers). It seems like a lot of ingredients, but they are all pretty basic, and some I already had on hand.
The key to making eggplant, is to get as much of the water out as possible. I did this by slicing it up, and sprinkling salt on both sides, and letting it sit out for almost 2 hours (learned that from Alton Brown on Food Network). This reduces the sliminess factor a lot. I also sauteed the pieces in my frying pan a little, but I don’t think it made much difference. As these were sitting out, I sprayed cooking spray into my 13×9 pan, and cut up the onions and mushrooms. As the eggplant was getting done, I made one layer in the bottom of the glass pan. I then spread the all riccota cheese on top, and added my spices. It looked like this:
Remember that the eggplant has been salted, so don’t go crazy adding more salt. The next step is to fry the bacon in a pan until it is super crispy. For turkey bacon I had to use some olive oil to cook it in, because it’s super lean. Remove the bacon from the pan and add the mushroom and onions. You can cook them in a little white wine if you have it also. Once the bacon is cool, crumble it into the pan. Spread this mixture on top of the riccota cheese. Here’s what it looks like:
I then sauteed more eggplant, but you can avoid that time-waster and just layer it on top, like so:
I scattered the whole package of mozzarella on top. There was still some oil in my pan, and home-made bread crumbs in my freezer (have I not mentioned that before? Good idea for a post), so I fried the bread crumbs in olive oil with some garlic salt, and used this to top the whole thing.
It came out looking and smelling really good, and Hubby loved it. I couldn’t get past the eggplant flavor. I am just not a fan. If you are, this is the recipe for you.
Variations: crumbled Italian sausage instead of bacon, or no bacon at all to make it vegetarian, zucchini instead of eggplant, if you want it to taste good. Haha! It was fine, just not my thing. Once I make it again we’ll see if I like it. You could probably throw in some white beans, spinach, kale, and/or chard and I bet that would be good too. This is not the cheapest recipe I have, and that’s mostly because of all the cheese involved.
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