Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Four Cheese 16-Layer Lasagna Melanzane

Lasagna and melanzane.  Not only do they rhyme, it's a natural flavor pairing...kind of like lasagna and eggplant parmigiana had a baby.  For the triple threat rhyme, they could name their adorable little offspring Lasagna Melanzane Parmigiana!  Or not.  (Sometimes I do get carried away...)  Regardless, I'm grateful those very kind Italians made their word for eggplant rhyme so well with lasagna!

Somehow, in my fevered little brain, I originally thought I'd reduce the calories in lasagna by substituting half of the pasta with eggplant slices.  With ALL THAT CHEESE?!  What difference do a few less pieces of pasta make?  Not much difference in calories, but the eggplant goodness ADDS texture and lends meatiness to quite a substantial vegetarian dish.  This ain't diet food!

Do you remember the Fresh Tomato Basil Summer Sauce I made and posted a little while back?  That's what I've used for the sauce. Chunky and thick, Summer Sauce provides an extra fresh basil-y, garlicky zip to the dish that is smoothed out by all the cheeses - silky ricotta, freshly grated parm, slices of mozz and topped with slices of smoky provolone at the end.  

Don't have the time or the inclination to make your own sauce?  Barilla makes a very good Spicy Basil Tomato pasta sauce - I use it all the time in recipes - and if you don't like it spicy, it comes in just plain Basil Tomato.  Here's the link for the my Fresh Tomato Basil Summer Sauce: http://dinnerplan-it.blogspot.com/2012/09/fresh-tomato-basil-summer-sauce.html   

Is this a lot of work?  Yes.  Is it worth it? Yes!  My suggestion...make it on Sunday and whip it out on Meatless Monday for a heat and serve dinner that satisfies!

Four Cheese 16-Layer Lasagna Melanzane

  • 8 lasagna noodles, Cooked just halfway, drained (use gluten-free lasagna noodles to make this gluten-free - I used Boles)

  • 4 cups tomato sauce, homemade summer sauce or Barilla spicy basil pasta sauce (or your own fave sauce, but be sure it's thick and chunky)
  • 12 ounces ricotta cheese, part skim milk
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • 1/2 cup cream, or buttermilk (that's what I used...gives a nice tang)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated garlic, divided
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 8 ounces mozzarella cheese, part skim milk, sliced
  • 8 ounces provolone cheese slices, the good smoky provolone!
  • 1 large eggplant, top & bottom removed, sliced in half lengthwise, sliced across into thin slices (I like to leave the skin on for gorgeous color!)

Mix the ricotta, parm, 1 T. granulated garlic, salt & pepper and cream (or buttermilk) to taste together well.  Set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a large, deep lasagna pan, spoon just enough sauce to cover the bottom.  Make a layer of 3 noodles across using part of another noodle to patch the end if necessary. 

Continue the layers like this:  1/3 ricotta, sprinkle with granulated garlic, s&p, 1/2 the slices of mozzarella, 1/2 the eggplant slices, 1/3 ricotta sprinkled with granulated garlic, s&p, the other 1/2 of mozzarella, a layer of sauce, a layer of noodles the same as the 1st, the last 1/3 of the ricotta sprinkled with granulated garlic, s&p, the last 1/2 of the mozzarella, a layer of sauce, the last of the eggplant, the last of the sauce and finally, cover the top with the provolone.  Whew!

Cover the lasagna loosely with foil and bake for 1 1/2 hours covered.  Remove foil and continue baking another 20-30 minutes until browned and bubbly.

Let the lasagna rest 15-20 minutes before cutting into squares.

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