Lasagna is one of those foods that sounds so good on a chilly day. Traditionally this Italian casserole is made on the weekends for family gatherings, birthday celebrations, or as a nice meal with the intention of weekday leftovers. Many of us have our own way of making lasagna – layers of meat, cheese and zesty tomato sauce, but sometimes it’s fun to change it up.
Roasting eggplant is a simple process and it turns this purple fibrous vegetable into a tender succulent experience. It becomes meat-like in texture and sweet in taste, and it is the perfect thing to sandwich between layers of cheese and sauce. In this recipe, I use four kinds of cheeses – smoky mozzarella, fresh mozzarella, Parmesan and ricotta. The smokiness comes from both the Scamorza (smoked mozzarella) cheese and the lightly roasted eggplant – I think the combination builds rustic flavor.
This lasagna recipe is not meatless because spicy Italian sausage offers a mild heat and turns ordinary marinara into a deep-red bubbling bath. This lasagna will definitely become part of your weekend cooking repertoire, especially in this weather. So, invite some friends and tell them to bring the wine! Don’t forget to tag me on Instagram @genabellrecipes or comment here on my blog.
1 medium eggplant, sliced into rounds
1 pound spicy Italian sausage, pork or turkey
1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic
28 ounces whole tomatoes
6 ounces tomato paste
3 sprigs fresh oregano, divided
12 ounces Scamorza or smoked mozzarella
12 ounces fresh mozzarella
12 ounces whole milk ricotta cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated and divided
6-8 no-boil lasagna noodles
1/4 cup fresh parsley, rough chopped
salt & pepper
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut eggplant into 1/4 inch thick slices. Place on a lightly oiled sheet pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in oven for 25-30 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Remove and cool. Lower oven heat to 375 degrees.
2. Remove sausages from any packaging. In a large saute pan, add 2 tablespoons olive oil and place over medium high heat. Slice casings off sausages and place in meat in pan. Break apart sausages with spoon until crumbly and cook until slightly pink.
3. Dice onion and mince garlic, add to sausage and cook for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes with juice and break apart with spoon. Add tomato paste, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, stir.
4. Remove leaves from oregano and rough chop. Add 1 tablespoon to meat mixture and stir. Save remaining oregano for ricotta cheese mixture. Turn heat to low and simmer sauce for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
5. Grate Scamorza and thinly slice fresh mozzarella. In a bowl, combine ricotta cheese, 2 tablespoon of grated Parmesan, remaining oregano and 1 egg, stir to combine.
6. Spoon 1/3 of sauce into a greased casserole dish. Top with half of no-boil lasagna noodles. Dollop half of ricotta cheese mixture on top, spread over noodles. Layer third of Scamorza and a third fresh mozzarella and half of roasted eggplant on top. Repeat one more time – sauce, noodles, ricotta mixture, Scamorza, mozzarella and eggplant.
7. Pour remaining sauce over top and spread to cover. Top with remaining Scamorza, mozzarella and sprinkle with Parmesan. Cover with foil and bake in oven for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake again for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest for 15 minutes before slicing. Sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve. Enjoy!