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Eggplant and Lasagne Casserole

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Here is an interesting variation on the classic eggplant parmigiana. While eggplant is most flavorful when deep-fried, as here, the dish can also be made by grilling or broiling the eggplant first (see note).

Ahead-of-time: This pastiaio can be assembled up to 3 days in advance, covered, and refrigerated. Leftover pastiaio reheats well: Cover with aluminum foil and place in a preheated 375 degree F oven for 20 to 30 minutes, depending upon whether it is chilled or at room temperature.

To broil or grill the eggplant, cut, salt, drain, rinse, and dry the eggplants as directed. Brush the eggplant slices generously with olive oil on one side. Place them on an oiled grill rack, or on a baking sheet if you are broiling, oiled side up. Position the grill rack or broiler pan 6 to 8 inches from the heat source; it must not be too close or the eggplant will burn. Grill or broil on both sides, using a metal spatula to flip them, until tender and golden brown. Turn the eggplant slices only once and brush them on the second side with oil as soon as they are turned. Proceed with the recipe.

For6 people

Cooking Methodbaking

CostModerate

Total Timeunder 2 hours

Make Ahead RecipeYes

OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Family Get-together

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationhalal, kosher, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free, vegetarian

Equipmentbaking/gratin dish

Mealdinner

Taste and Texturebubbly, cheesy, savory, umami

Type of Dishbaked pasta, casserole, pasta

Ingredients

  • 2 eggplants (about 2 pounds total weight)
  • Salt
  • 1 can (28 ounces) plum tomatoes in purée
  • ½ pound fresh cultivated mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 small carrot, scraped and chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh chopped basil, or 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Olive oil or vegetable oil for deep frying
  • 3½ quarts water
  • 6 ounces dried lasagne (9 whole lasagne noodles)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • ½ pound mozzarella, shredded
  • ¼ pound aged or young pecorino cheese, grated or shredded, or 1 cup freshly grated parmigiano
  • 2 extra large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons milk or heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated parmigiano

Instructions

  1. Trim the stems and navels off the eggplants and cut them crosswise into rounds ¼ inch thick. Sprinkle each slice lightly with salt. Place the rounds in a colander, standing them upright so the bitter liquid drains out of the seeds, about 40 minutes. Use a clean kitchen towel or paper towels to blot the salt and sweat from the eggplants.

  2. Meanwhile, to make the sauce, cut the tomatoes in half crosswise and remove excess seeds by pushing them out with your thumb. Chop the tomatoes. Sieve the tomato puree to remove any seeds. Combine the tomatoes and puree and set aside.

  3. Using a soft brush or clean kitchen towel, remove any dirt from the mushrooms. Don’t wash them because water alters their texture. Separate the stems from the caps, discarding the stems if they are tough. Thinly slice the caps and tender stems. In a skillet over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the garlic, onion, and carrot and sauté gently, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened, about 12 minutes. Add the mushrooms and sauté gently, stirring now and then, until they are tender, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, puree, basil, and salt. Simmer the sauce gently for 20 minutes.

  4. While the sauce is cooking, in a skillet over medium-high heat, pour in olive oil to a depth of 1 inch. Heat the oil hot enough to make the eggplant sizzle. As soon as the oil is hot enough, but not before, slip the rounds into the hot oil. Fry on both sides, turning once, until they color, about 4 minutes on each side. Remove to paper towels to drain well.

  5. Meanwhile, bring the water to a rolling boil in a large pot. Add the lasagne and salt. Cook over high heat to maintain the boil, stirring frequently, until the noodles are not quite al dente (slightly undercooked), about 10 minutes. Drain the noodles and rinse them in cold water; drain thoroughly again and set aside flat on a sheet of waxed paper.

  6. Preheat an oven to 400 degrees F.

  7. To assemble the pasticcio, select a 9-by-12-inch baking dish. Smear the bottom of it with a tablespoon or two of the sauce. In a bowl combine the mozzarella and pecorino. Place half of the eggplant rounds in a layer over the sauce. Smear the rounds with a thin layer of the sauce. Then sprinkle with about one fourth of the cheeses. Place a single layer of lasagne noodles atop the cheeses, being sure that they are close together and side to side, not on top of one another. Spread a layer of sauce over the noodles, then sprinkle with, one third of the remaining cheeses. Arrange the remaining eggplant over that, then again, the sauce, cheese, lasagne, sauce, and cheese. To make the topping, in a bowl stir together the eggs, milk, and parmigiano. Pour it evenly over the pastiaio.

  8. Bake on the middle rack of the oven until the top is golden and the pastiaio is bubbling, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to settle for 10 minutes before cutting into squares. Serve hot.

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