17 September 2012

Recipe: Eggplant Lasagna w/ Parsley Pesto

My wife’s birthday landed on Rosh Hashana this year. So I prepared the festive meal with help from family and guests who shared the evening with us.

Here’s what I made – turkey (roasted on the charcoal Weber Grill), eggplant Lasagna with parsley pesto, mashed potatoes, challah, and applesauce (apples from my parents’ farm). My son and his wife brought a delicious apple cake. My daughter and her husband brought a recipe by Giada De Laurentiis for Sweet Pea Crostini (a crowd-pleaser every time). Another guest brought a delicious kale salad with walnuts and dried cranberries. Another guest brought roasted asparagus and red peppers. Any my wife’s sister brought a tray of chocolate peanut butter brownies.RoshHashana2012A

We had a total of 12 adults, three kids, and one toddler for the dinner. There was plenty of food. No one went home hungry.

The lasagna that I made was something new. I’ve made lasagna with roasted fall vegetables before. But the eggplant lasagna was unusual (at least for me). I didn’t think of it at the time, but it was almost like moussaka. I found the recipe on Epicurious. It originally appeared in a 2003 issue of Gourmet magazine (RIP). I followed the recipe pretty closely. The recipe called for no-boil lasagna noodles; I used dried noodles and boiled them according to the package directions.

The only addition – I had some shredded mozzarella in the refrigerator, so I sprinkled that over the lasagna before baking it. Also, the recipe said there’d be about 3/4 cup of pesto leftover. I only had about 1/4 cup left for drizzling over the finished lasagna. The recipe says it serves 8. Since we had so much other food, I cut it into 12 pieces, and several people only took half pieces.

Here’s the recipe as it appears on Epicurious.

Eggplant Lasagna with Parsley Pesto Gourmet | November 2003

Yield: Makes 8 servings


For béchamel
1 garlic clove, minced
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
5 cups whole milk
1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
For pesto and ricotta mixture
1 1/3 cups hazelnuts (5 1/2 ounces), toasted and loose skins rubbed off in a kitchen towel
4 cups loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves (from 3/4 lb)
3 ounces finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1 1/2 cups)
2/3 cup plus 1/4 cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/4 teaspoons black pepper
1 large egg
1 (15-ounce) container whole-milk ricotta
For lasagna
4 pounds medium eggplants (4), cut crosswise into 1/3-inch-thick slices
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
9 (7- by 3 1/2-inch) oven-ready lasagna noodles (sometimes called "no-boil"; 6 oz)
1 1/2 ounces finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano


Make béchamel:

Cook garlic in butter in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderately low heat, stirring, 1 minute. Add flour and cook roux, whisking, 3 minutes. Add milk in a stream, whisking. Add bay leaf and bring to a boil over moderately high heat, whisking constantly, then reduce heat and simmer, whisking occasionally, until liquid is reduced to about 4 cups, about 10 minutes. Whisk in salt and white pepper, then remove from heat and discard bay leaf. Cover surface of sauce with wax paper until ready to use.

Make pesto and ricotta mixture:

Coarsely chop 1/3 cup hazelnuts and reserve for sprinkling over lasagna.

Purée parsley, Parmigiano-Reggiano, 2/3 cup oil, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, and remaining cup hazelnuts in a food processor until pesto is smooth, about 1 minute.

Whisk egg in a bowl, then stir in ricotta, 1 cup parsley pesto, remaining teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper until combined well.

Stir together 1/4 cup pesto and remaining 1/4 cup oil in a small bowl for drizzling over lasagna.

Roast eggplant for lasagna:

Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 450°F. Oil 2 large baking sheets.

Brush eggplant with oil on both sides, then arrange in 1 layer on baking sheets and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake eggplant, switching position of sheets halfway through baking and turning slices over once, until tender, 20 to 25 minutes total.

Assemble lasagna:

Put oven rack in middle position and reduce oven temperature to 425°F. Lightly oil a 13- by 9- by 2-inch glass or ceramic baking dish (3 quart) and line a larger shallow baking pan with foil.

Spread 1 cup béchamel in baking dish and cover with 3 pasta sheets, leaving spaces between sheets. Drop 1 cup ricotta mixture by spoonsful over pasta, spreading evenly (layer will be thin), then top with 1 layer of eggplant, cutting rounds to fit if necessary. Make 1 more layer each of béchamel, pasta, ricotta, and eggplant. Spread with 1 cup béchamel and cover with remaining 3 pasta sheets. Spread remaining cup ricotta mixture over pasta, then spread ricotta with remaining cup béchamel and top with remaining eggplant in 1 layer (you may have a few slices left over). Sprinkle Parmigiano-Reggiano over eggplant and scatter with reserved chopped hazelnuts.

Tightly cover baking dish with oiled foil (oiled side down), then set dish in foil-lined pan (to catch drips) and bake lasagna 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake until golden and bubbling, 10 to 15 minutes more. Let lasagna stand 15 to 20 minutes before serving.

Serve lasagna drizzled with pesto.

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