Tag Archive | eggplant

Roasted Vegetable Lasagna

Roasted Vegetable Lasagna

While other Canadian families were enjoying pot roasts for Sunday dinners, our Sunday treat was homemade lasagna, including fresh pasta made from scratch and we didn’t have it for dinner. On Sundays, we enjoyed a late lunch around two pm and then everyone fended for themselves for a light dinner, late snack.

Oh, how I looked forward to Sunday lasagna and we never tired of it. How could we? Pasta is the ultimate comfort food, and lasagna, well, it’s the ultimate comfort dish. More often than not, the lasagna was made in its simplest form: pasta sheets, tomato sauce, Parmesan, and mozzarella cheese. Every once and a while,  my mom would mix it up and add ground veal, miniature meatballs, hard boiled eggs, etc., but everyone’s favourite was the classic style, so delicious for no reason other than it was uncomplicated. Italian cooking at its best. Few ingredients, so fresh, that’s all you need.

We don’t buy store bought tomato sauce, which is why I don’t offer a recipe for it. Ours comes from mason jars and contains homemade, jarred sauce that’s made and preserved annually in the month of August, the height of tomato season. I’ll feature a recipe this year to be made with seasonal ripe tomatoes, so that you can have a taste.

The grilled/roasted veggies is my addition. My way of adding substance and heartiness (and of course, veggies). Taking the time to place only one type of vegetable per layer ensures the ultimate bite. This way, every bite contains: zucchini, peppers, mushrooms, and eggplant.

The drizzled, beaten egg is the addition of my genius mother. I like hard boiled eggs, but have never enjoyed them in lasagna and my husband absolutely hates them. Reluctant to eliminate them from her recipe, she started adding beaten eggs. She’s been doing it for years and none of us knew. You can’t detect them, but they definitely add something plus make the dish heartier. Now that the cat’s out of the bag, I’m going to hear it from the Mister, I’m sure.

One last thing, you’ll notice that though the mozzarella is ample in this dish, it’s not overloaded. Italians don’t layer their lasagna with mounds of cheese. It’s an important feature, but not the only one. Remember, it’s about balancing a handful of your freshest ingredients and allowing them to come together as one, not drowning the dish by overdosing on cheese.

When I take the time to make this dish, I double it up. Can’t tell you how nice it is to enjoy this on a week night. I made these lasagne sheets with my mom – the gift that keeps on giving. Thanks mom!

My favourite Italian dish is pizza, but this is without a doubt a close second. With the veggies, it’s a lighter alternative that has substance and the grilled/roasted aspect add a flare for the gourmet. As my mother says (my husband knows it well), “mangia!”

Roasted Vegetable Lasagna 2

Serves 6 -8

Ingredients:

 Lasagna sheets, fresh  10
 Tomato Sauce, prepared   20 oz
 Eggplant, medium – large  1
 Zucchini  3
 Mushrooms, oysters  8 oz
 Peppers, red and green, medium  2
 Parmesan, grated  1/4 cup
 Mozzarella, shredded  340 g
 Eggs, beaten  2

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. To roast the eggplant, line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice eggplant width-wise into quarter inch slices. Brush both sides with olive oil. Salt and pepper one side only. Place eggplant slices on baking sheet, so they don’t overlap.

For the zucchini, cut them width-wise into half inch disks. Place on a plate and drizzle lightly with olive oil, salt, and black pepper and toss. Line a smaller baking dish with zucchini ensuring all disks touch the paper and are laying flat.

Line a third, small baking pan with parchment paper. Place mushrooms on pan and drizzle them with olive oil, salt and black pepper and toss.

Place peppers whole on a small baking sheet.

Place all four pans in the oven. Bake/roast for approximately 45-60 minutes. Peppers will need rotating from time to time, so that all sides get charred. Keep an eye on them as they may be done at slightly different times. When peppers are done. Remove them from the oven and place them in a bowl covering them with plastic wrap. After they have cooled, approximately 10 minutes, they should be easier to peel.

I normally roast veggies from the day before to save on time. Alternatively, you can grill all vegetables on the barbecue.

3. Bring a medium pot filled 2/3 with water to a boil. Generously salt the water and bring to a rolling simmer. Two at a time, place lasagna sheets into pot. Move them around using a wooden spoon, so they don’t stick to each other. When the pasta sheets rise/float to the top, approximately 1-2 minutes, remove sheets from boiling water and transfer to a bowl with cold water. Continue, two at a time, until all lasagna sheets are cooked. 

4. To assemble, using a 11 by 16 baking pan, spread some tomato sauce on the bottom of the pan. Remove two sheets of lasagna, one at a time, from the bowl with water, running your hand down the sheets to remove as much of the water as possible. Lay both sheets down on the pan side by side until they touch.

Spread more tomato sauce on first layer of sheets. Follow with Parmesan cheese, egg drizzle, zucchini disks, and mozzarella cheese.

Repeat three more times, in the same order, but switching the zucchini with another vegetable in the following order: peppers, mushrooms, eggplant. I place the more watery veggies on the bottom for better cooking and to avoid a soggy lasagna. This method ensures that each of the four veggies encompasses each bite for that perfect bite!

The fifth layer, last layer, includes all the ingredients, including egg, but no veggie.

5. Cover lasagna with foil paper and bake for 20 minutes in a 375 degree oven. Remove foil paper and bake for another 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to set for 10 minutes. Serve with a side salad.

Grilled Vegetable Wrap

 

Roasted Vegetable Wrap

I know it’s not the season to be barbecuing, but I have been craving a good grilled vegetable sandwich for some time and since the weather was unseasonably warm on boxing day (in the pluses – do you believe it??), we took full advantage. If you aren’t so lucky in your part of the world, you may roast the vegetables in the oven (red pepper whole and eggplant sliced and roasted on a baking sheet).

I have a few simple rules for making sandwiches: always balance the warm with something cold and fresh, always include something marinaded, and always enhance with a condiment, sauce, or spread of some sort.

I love everything about this sandwich, so many robust flavours that stand out, but meld so beautifully together. The black olive tapenade, roasted red pepper, and parmesan cheese are each bold on their own and in their own right, but team up for an explosion of flavours that are tied together by the creaminess of the eggplant and hint of vinegar from the marinated mushrooms. The Romaine lettuce adds a crispness, lightness, and freshness to these wintry, filling, loud flavours.

Roasted/grilled vegetables take any sandwich from ordinary to extraordinary, but what makes this sandwich extra special is the parmesan cheese. Perhaps its the culture, but my husband always marvels at how I can eat chunks of parmesan cheese on their own or for an even more heavenly treat with thick slices of ciabatta. Parmesan is often used grated and as a taste enhancer, almost like a seasoning. It’s there and you can’t miss it, but usually as a helper, not a main attraction. In this sandwich, it shares the starring role with the grilled eggplant and red pepper. The wrap would be good without the parmesan cheese, but the parmesan just takes it over the top.

If you have never celebrated parmesan like this, go ahead. Get rid of your grater because you are in for a treat!

Serves 2

Ingredients:

 Eggplant, medium, sliced diagonally 1/4-inch thick  1
 Pepper, red, large  1
 Pepper, green, hot  2
 Olive oil
 Salt
 Black pepper
 Lettuce, Romaine, pieces  4
 Cheese, Parmesan, slices  4
 Mushrooms (roasted), marinated (in oil, not vinegar)  16
Black Olive Tapenade:  (makes 5 heaping tablespoons or 1/3 cup)
 Olives, black, pits removed  1 cup
 Olive oil  2 tbsp
 Black pepper  1 turn
 Garlic, clove, sliced  1
 Oregano, fresh, sprig, large  1
 Vinegar, red wine  2 tsp
 Chili flakes  Pinch
 Tortilla wraps, whole wheat  2

1. For the grilled vegetables, slice eggplant diagonally 1/4-inch thick. Brush each slice on both sides with olive oil. Season with salt and black pepper on one side only.

2. Grill eggplant slices 3-4 minutes on each side. Place red and green peppers whole on the bbq and grill until charred on all sides (approximately 3-4 minutes for the green pepper and 8-10 minutes for the red pepper).

3. Place peppers in a small bowl and cover with saran wrap. After they have cooled, remove skins and seeds.

4. For the black olive tapenade, place all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth and all ingredients are well combined approximately 3-4 minutes.

5. To assemble the wrap, lay the wrap flat onto a plate. Spread 1 tbsp of the olive tapenade on one side of the wrap. Follow with, two layers of eggplant slices (6-8 slices depending on the size of the eggplant), 2 pieces of the red pepper (half the red pepper), one green pepper, two leaves of Romaine lettuce, two slices of parmesan cheese, and 8 marinated mushrooms. Fold half the warp over contents and draw that part of the wrap and its contents towards you. Fold in the ends (both sides) and continue to tightly roll the wrap. Repeat with second wrap.

There is enough tapenade to make 4 sandwiches, so you may choose to double the recipe to serve 4 or freeze the additional 3 tablespoons in individual tablespoons for another time. Yum!

 

Grilled Eggplant and Zucchini Pressed Panino


I used to be able to get a version of this sandwich at this tiny little lunch place by work. Every time I went in there, I would ask for a panino and the man behind the counter would correct me and ask, “you mean a panini?” I would answer, “not unless you are planning to give me two for the price of one.” Panini is plural, meaning multiple sandwiches; panino is singular for one sandwich. I love it when people correct my Italian. The restaurant has long since gone out of business, but I continue to enjoy it at home. I think mine’s better :).  

Every vegetarian pressed panino seems to contain grilled eggplant and zucchini. I know, but this sandwich is different. I have had the zucchini both grilled and raw and it’s delicious both ways. The dressing, though simple, adds the right amount of creaminess and it dances thanks to the freshly cracked black pepper and strong hints of parsley. Who puts parsley in their sandwiches?? It’s fabulous. Trust me.  Then there’s the crunch from the no-nonsense green pepper, which is actually refreshing in this crowd. Combined with a warm, toasty bun that heats everything up and causes the mozzarella to ooze, it’s simply lovely. Oh how I love this sandwich!!

Serves 1

Ingredients:

 Bun, flat, whole grain  1
 Mozzarella, slices  2-3
 Eggplant, small, grilled  1
 Zucchini, grilled or raw  1
 Pepper, green (raw), thinly sliced  1/2
 Mayonnaise  1 tbsp
 Basil pesto 1 tsp
 Mustard, Dijon  1/2 tsp
 Parsely, fresh, finely chopped 1 tbsp
 Black pepper  

Directions:

  1. Thinly slice eggplant. Brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper.
  2. Slice zucchini diagonally approximately half an inch wide. Brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper.
  3. Grilled eggplant and zucchini slices over medium heat for approximately 2-3 minutes on each side.
  4. Combine the mayonnaise, basil pesto, Dijon mustard, parsley and black pepper. Set aside.
  5. Cut bun in half and spread half the mayonnaise spread over one side. Save the extra for lunch.
  6. Then add the mozzarella slices, three layers of eggplant, one layer of zucchini, green pepper slices, in this order. Top with other half of the bun.
  7.  Heat a small frying pan on medium heat. Do not add oil.
  8.  Add the panino and reduce the heat by one notch.
  9. Place something heavy (e.g.  cast iron pan) on the panino and press down for 3 minutes.
  10. Flip panino and press and cook for another 3 minutes.