I feel like before we get into this recipe I have to give some inspiration credit to my friend John Fazio who told me about his eggplant parmigano -pasta less and gluten free lasagna. On its own his dish sounds pretty epic but I am a big meat and pasta lover so I put my own twist on his dish to create this awesomeness!!! It is a bit of a lengthy process so make sure to start way a head of time or the day before and than once prepared its about an hour to bake and serve! Okay here we go!
So there is five parts to this recipe - 1st make your meat sauce, 2nd Bake your eggplant, 3rd Make your ricotta and spinach layer, 4th assemble lasagna and 5th bake it to its full glory. Lets start with the ingredient breakdown and ideally your shopping list :)
INGREDIENTS - Meat Sauce
2 TBSP - Olive Oil
1 large - Spanish Onion (diced)
2 Cloves - Garlic (finely chopped)
1 Lbs - Ground Beef
150 Grams - Pancetta (diced into squares)
1400 Ml - Strained Tomato Puree
1 TBSP - Basil
1 TBSP - Oregano
1 TSP - Chili Flakes (optial)
INGREDIENTS - Eggplant
3 Eggplants (Wash, cut off both top and bottom and slice into hockey pucks about pinkie finger size widths)
4 TBSP - Salt
INGREDIENTS - Ricotta and Spinach Layer
1 Cup Frozen Spinach (leave out to defrost)
1 Cup Ricotta
Salt and Pepper
INGREDIENTS - Lasagna Assembly
1 Box - Lasagna Pasta (I used no name brand that didn't require pre-cooking)
2 Cups Mozzarella (I used two kinds, one soft one that I grated and added to the parmigano below and one harder one that was already cut in slices)
1 Cup Parmigano (grated)
DIRECTIONS - Meat Sauce
Put diced pancetta into deep pot. Bring to medium heat
Cook the pancetta for 5 minutes until golden brown. If you have a lot of bits stuck to the bottom, add a little water to deglaze.
Add diced onion and sweat it for 3 minutes.
Add in the garlic and sweat for 2 more minutes
Add dried oregano, dried basil, and chili flakes (or to your taste)
Stir all ingredients together and cook for 3 minutes
Season ground beef with salt and pepper and cover the bottom of the pan to get a nice sear on the meet. Salt and pepper the other side. Cook for 3 minutes on medium to high heat to get it seared.
Once you have seared the meat, flip to the sear the other sides. At this point you can start to break up the meat. You can break it into larger pieces or smaller pieces depending on your preference. Try to mix and onion mixture and meat while you do this.
Once the meat is browned, but not cooked through, (3-7 more minutes depending on how much ground beef) pour in the bottles of strained tomatoes.
Stir in the strained tomatoes so that the meat is evenly distributed and lower heat to a low-simmer temperature. Leave uncovered or slightly uncovered and simmer for 1-2 hours (or more if you want it very thick), stirring every 15 minutes or so.
*You can start the eggplant now return to the sauce later)
After cooking the sauce down, taste to see if you need more seasoning. There should be enough salt from the pancetta and the seasoned meat, but season to taste.
DIRECTIONS - Eggplant
Toss eggplant pucks in salt and let sit/drain for 30 min (eggplants have a lot of water inside them so the salt will pull it out and help soak it up
* You can start the ricotta and spinach spread at this point while you wait and return to the eggplant
Preheat oven at 375 degrees. Bake Eggplant on parchment paper for 20min or until they start to go golden (dont let them burn)
DIRECTIONS - Ricotta and Spinach
Mix together the defrosted (unfrozen) spinach, ricotta salt and pepper in a bowl.
DIRECTIONS - Assembly
First add in some meat sauce to the bottom of the lasagna dish then add in your uncooked lasagna pasta stripes. They can over lap a little. (the water/juice of the sauce will cook the pasta dont worry)
You can add another layer of sauce followed by a layer of eggplant followed by ricotta and a mix of the grated mozzarella and parmigano mixture. Start you next layer with pasta stripes again. Keep doing this for three layers (or as many as you can) until the dish is full!
On the final layer add more sauce and the pre-sliced mozzarella pack along with more grated parmigano.
Cover and keep in the fridge until you are ready to cook.
When you are ready to cook preheat oven to 375 and cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour. You can test to see if the pasta is cooked by slicing in the middle of the dish and seeing if its cooked.
I hope you enjoyed this recipe as much as I do. If you have any comments please leave them below and Ill be happy to answer them as soon as I can! Happy cooking!!!