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Eggplant Lasagna with Spicy Italian Sausage Meat Sauce

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This Eggplant Lasagna with Spicy Italian Sausage Meat Sauce is not your average pasta-based lasagna.  We have by-passed the standard lasagna noodles and opted for slices of eggplant instead and packed in a ton of flavor with spicy Italian sausage and fresh herbs. 

Eggplant Lasagna with Spicy Italian Sausage Meat Sauce

Did you know that July 29th is National Lasagna Day? We did not!  Now that we have been enlightened we are giggling and wondering who dreams up these special days.  As it is, we are presenting a pasta-less lasagna that is guaranteed to please heart, mind and tummy.

Eggplant is a wonderful vegetable that seems to be ignored way too often.  They are available year around and the new crop will be beginning in another month.  You will know they are the freshest crop by their bright green top-knot and they will be firm to the touch.

These big, glossy, purple eggplants are aptly named for their egg-like shape, they are heart-healthy and nutritious.  They have a bland flavor and a spongy texture which causes the flesh to absorb flavors when included with other ingredients.   

Lasagna is a much-loved layered casserole and we have been told that the crinkly-edged lasagna noodle was created specifically for this Italian specialty.  Lasagna is one of the oldest Italian dishes to be found in Italy, dating back as far as Roman times.   You can do just about anything you want in making lasagna and recipes abound in cookbooks and on the internet.  Not all lasagna dishes include pasta but all lasagna dishes are layered.

Eggplant Lasagna with Spicy Italian Sausage Meat Sauce

There are three layers in our eggplant lasagna and they will fill a 9×13-inch casserole dish and serve a crowd.  That beautiful purple skin is loaded with nutrition and somewhat chewy, but for this lasagna recipe we used a vegetable peeler to remove it.  The peeled eggplants were cut into 1/4-inch thick slices, placed on an oiled baking sheet and roasted for 15-minutes.  After they cooled the slices were ready to use in place of pasta noodles.

Spicy Italian sausage was cooked with onion, garlic, red wine and marinara sauce.  We simmered the sauce to reduce it down to a rich, thick sauce.  If you notice the absence of salt in the meat sauce, it is intended and not an error as there is plenty of seasoning in the sausage and marinara sauce, the flavors become more concentrated when the sauce is reduced.  

While the sauce was simmering the béchamel sauce was prepared.  Béchamel is a fancy French word for a basic white sauce that works very well in lasagna.   Shredded mozzarella cheese and chopped fresh basil was added in each layer with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese over the top of the final layer.

Eggplant Lasagna with Spicy Italian Sausage Meat Sauce

So…. now that you know that July 29th is National Lasagna Day, what favorite lasagna will you be creating to celebrate the event?

More Lasagna Recipes:  

 

Eggplant Lasagna with Spicy Italian Sausage Meat Sauce

Eggplant Lasagna with Spicy Italian Sausage Meat Sauce

Yield: 12 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

This Eggplant Lasagna with Spicy Italian Sausage Meat Sauce is not your average pasta-based lasagna. Slices of eggplant are used in lieu of pasta noodles. Spicy Italian sausage, béchamel sauce, fresh herbs and mozzarella cheese are added in the layering of the casserole.

Ingredients

For the Eggplants:

  • 3 medium-size eggplants
  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil

For the Meat Sauce:

  • 1 pound bulk spicy Italian sausage
  • 1 medium onion
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed or grated
  • 1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning mix
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 25-oz. jar marinara sauce

For the Béchamel Sauce:

  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/3 cup (40 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated black pepper
  • 4 1/2 cups 2% milk

For Assembling:

  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 16 ounces Mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 4 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley for garnish
  • Fresh basil sprigs for garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. 
  2. Brush 2 baking sheets lightly with olive oil
  3. Spray a 9x13-inch baking dish with oil-spray
  4. Cut off the tops from the eggplants and cut them lengthwise into 1/4-inch thick slices. Arrange eggplant slices on the baking sheets. Brush each slice with oil and bake 20 minutes, turning slices and rotating the baking sheet when halfway through the baking process. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
  5. In a large skillet set over medium-high heat, add the sausage and break up with a wooden spoon or fork. Cook, while continuing to stir occasionally, until lightly browned. Drain off and discard the accumulated fat, push the sausage to one side and add the chopped onions, garlic and seasoning mix. Cook and stir until the onions are translucent. Add the wine and cook for 1 minute to burn of the alcohol. Add the marinara sauce, stir to combine well. Increase the heat to high and bring the sauce to a boil then lower the heat and simmer the sauce to reduce the volume. Remove from the heat and reserve. 

To make the Béchamel Sauce:

  1. Add the butter to a large saucepan set over medium heat and when it has melted add the garlic and cook for a few seconds until fragrant. Add the flour, salt and pepper and cook, stirring until a pale golden color. Add the milk slowly while whisking constantly, bring to a boil and whisk until thick and smooth, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from the heat and set reserve.
  2. Add the chopped fresh herbs to a small dish and reserve.

To Assemble the Lasagna:

  1. Add 1 cup of the béchamel sauce to the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Add slices of eggplant alternating positions to fit the dish. Add 1 cup of the meat mixture, spread 1 cup of the béchamel sauce over the meat sauce and sprinkle with 1/3 of the shredded mozzarella, add 1/3 of the fresh herb mixture. Continue with the remaining layers......eggplant, meat sauce, béchamel sauce, mozzarella and fresh herbs, finishing with the grated Parmesan.
  2. Using a piece of foil large enough to cover the dish, spray the underside with non-stick oil and cover the dish. Transfer the lasagna to the middle of the oven and bake for 30 minutes, remove the foil and continue to bake for another 15 minutes until bubbly and golden brown. Transfer from the oven and cool for 15 minutes, Garnish with parsley or basil before serving.

Notes

  1. To keep the slices of eggplant from discoloring: As you cut each slice dip it into a bowl with a solution of 2 cups of water mixed with the juice of a lemon and lay the slice on a kitchen towel.
  2. Mozzarella cheese can be substituted with Monterey Jack cheese if desired
  3. Line a baking sheet with foil and place it on the oven rack under the rack with the lasagna to catch any drips that may overflow.


Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 486Total Fat: 34gSaturated Fat: 15gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 18gCholesterol: 81mgSodium: 1125mgCarbohydrates: 31gFiber: 6gSugar: 14gProtein: 24g

Nutrition information is a guideline only, is calculated automatically by third party software, and absolute accuracy is not guaranteed.

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Dianne Starr

Sunday 23rd of August 2020

I just made this and assembled it, but I have not backed it. I made many tweaks to the recipe, honestly because I could not find the recipe. When I read it last week it sound so good I knew I had to make it. I personally am not a fan of bechamel and I guess that is why I did not remember it. I roasted the eggplant slices and did make the sausage meat sauce. I left out the wine and the sauce, I browned the sausage with onions, cloves of garlic, and italian seasoning, flavored diced tomatoes hot pepper flakes, and black pepper. I came out fantastic. Today I par cooked whole spinach leaves and made a ricotta blend of shredded romano cheese basil oregano garlic powder and some salt and pepper. My first layer was the sauce, eggplant, sausage mixture, ricotta blend and a layer of steamed fresh spinach. I topped the spinach with shredded romano cheeses and shredded part skim mozzarella and repeated it 2 more times. mI topped it with more parmesan, shredded mozzarella, italian blend seasoning,, breadcrumbs and sprinkled olive oil. I covered it with aluminum foil and put it in the refrigerator. I did taste it raw and the flavors were fantastic. Can't wait to bake and eat it tomorrow. Sorry for tweaking your recipe next time I will follow yours to a T,, I saved it on my Pinterest.

Pat Nyswonger

Sunday 23rd of August 2020

Oh, you have been busy, Dianne! Thanks for your feedback on this post. I'm sure your version with the tweaks is going to taste wonderful! Please let us know the results. ♥️

Dahn Boquist

Sunday 23rd of August 2020

Thanks for the comment Dianne. It sounds like you made some tasty modifications ;) You may need to bake it for a bit longer if it is still cool from the fridge when put it in the oven. Hope you enjoy it tomorrow.

Monica | Nourish & Fete

Friday 28th of July 2017

I was just thinking last week that I'd like to find some yummy looking recipes using eggplant, and - boom! - here is your gorgeous lasagna! Pinning to try soon!

Pat

Friday 28th of July 2017

Hi, Monica! Well we are happy that you found our recipe! Thanks for pinning, enjoy :)

Vicky @ Avocado Pesto

Friday 28th of July 2017

Love love love that this is made with eggplant slices in place of noodles! So brilliant and even more delicious I bet. Who needs the noodles diluting all the other delicious flavors~

Pat

Friday 28th of July 2017

Thank you, Vicky...It is really good:)

Michelle @ Vitamin Sunshine

Friday 28th of July 2017

I love eggplant and it's simply not used enough!

Pat

Friday 28th of July 2017

I totally agree, Michelle....:)

Sandhya Hariharan

Thursday 27th of July 2017

Thank you for providing so much insight about Lasagne.. I really love mine layered with Eggplant and Bechamel Sauce too :)

Pat

Friday 28th of July 2017

Hello, Sandhya....I made this recipe first with a ricotta but the Béchamel sauce is much better. Thanks for your comments :)

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