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Herb-infused eggplant lasagne

Eggplants make delicious lasagne, but traditional methods usually involve slicing and frying them in copious quantities of oil. Here, they are cubed and simmered with flavouring ingredients to make a rich, zesty sauce.

Herb-infused eggplant lasagne

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds (optional)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 100 g mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh marjoram or 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 6 fresh sage leaves, shredded, or 1 tablespoon dried sage
  • 2 large eggplants, cut into 1 cm cubes
  • grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 cans chopped tomatoes, about 400 g each
  • 12 sheets fresh lasagne, about 250 g in total
  • 2 cups (500 g) cottage cheese
  • 2 tablespoons plain flour
  • 1 egg
  • 100 ml low–fat milk
  • a little freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan
  • salt and pepper

Preparation

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan.
  2. Add the fennel seeds, if using, and the bay leaf, and cook for a few seconds until they sizzle.
  3. Add the onion, garlic, celery, carrot, mushrooms, marjoram or oregano, and sage.
  4. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes or until the vegetables are softened slightly, but not browned.
  5. Stir in the eggplants and lemon zest, mixing the pieces with the other vegetables so that they absorb the oil and cooking juices.
  6. Continue to cook for 5 minutes, stirring often.
  7. Pour in the tomatoes with their juice and add seasoning to taste.
  8. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer the eggplant mixture for 15 minutes.
  9. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  10. While the sauce is simmering, cook the pasta in boiling water for 3–5 minutes, or according to the packet instructions, until al dente.
  11. Drain well and lay out on a clean tea towel, in a single layer, to dry.
  12. Purée the cottage cheese with the flour and egg in a food processor or blender until smooth.
  13. Add the milk and process again briefly.
  14. Season to taste with nutmeg, salt and pepper.
  15. Pour half the eggplant mixture into a large lasagne dish or other large oblong or square ovenproof dish.
  16. Discard the bay leaf as you do so.
  17. Cover with half the lasagne, then add the remaining eggplant mixture and top with the rest of the lasagne, overlapping the pieces neatly.
  18. Pour the cottage cheese mixture over the lasagne to cover it completely.
  19. Sprinkle the parmesan evenly over the top.
  20. Bake the lasagne for about 45 minutes or until the topping is set and golden.
  21. Leave the lasagne to stand for 10 minutes before serving.
  22. This allows time for the pasta and sauce to cool and ‘set’ slightly.

Serves 4
Preparation: about 30 minutes, plus 10 minutes standing
Cooking: about 1¼ hours



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