Veggie Highlight: Eggplant

By: Riley Box, Customer Service Manager

This week it’s all about eggplant! There are so many different ways to use it you can bake it, mashed into a dip, roasted, stuffed, grilled, and more! It’s best to use eggplant soon after buying or picking it from the garden. Within 1-3 days is a good rule of thumb to follow. Eggplant is delicate and simply doesn’t store well for long periods of time.
Store eggplant in a cool, dry area and avoid keeping it in the refrigerator. Eggplant is generally grown in temperate climates and doesn’t fare well in cold temperatures, like that of your refrigerator.

Classic Eggplant Lasagna

A great way to use up your paste tomatoes and eggplants!  

Ingredients:

Eggplant

  • 2 eggplants, sliced lengthwise (1/4 inch thick)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper

Sauce

  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage or ground beef (removable if wanted)
  • ½ large white onion, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 (28 ounce can) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (6 ounce can) tomato paste
  • 1 (8 oz can) tomato sauce
  • ½ cup white wine
  • ½ cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon ground oregano
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (divided)

Cheese:

  • 15 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 pound deli sliced mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease 2 baking sheets.
  2. Lay eggplant slices out onto prepared baking sheets into a single layer. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the preheated oven until tender, about 25 minutes, turning halfway through.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large pot over medium heat, add in ground sausage or ground beef. Use a spoon to break up the meat into small pieces. Add in onion and garlic and cook until meat is well browned, stirring constantly. Stir in fresh basil, oregano, ½ teaspoon salt, pepper, and ¼ cup chopped parsley. Pour in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and wine. Stir well and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and simmer 30 minutes (or up to 4 hours).
  4. In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese with egg, remaining 2 tablespoons parsley, ½ teaspoon salt, and nutmeg. Refrigerate until ready to assemble lasagna.
  5. Lightly grease a deep 9x13 pan.To assemble, spread about 1 cup of meat sauce in the bottom of the prepared pan. Place 6 eggplant slices on top to cover the bottom of the pan. Spread with ⅓ of the ricotta cheese mixture. Top with ¼ of mozzarella cheese slices. Spoon 1½ cups meat sauce over mozzarella, then sprinkle with ¼ cup parmesan cheese. Repeat layering two more times to create three complete layers. To finish, place a final layer of eggplant, topped with another 1 cup of meat sauce to cover the eggplant. Top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.
  6. Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes. Serve hot.

Other fun recipes to enjoy!