I love Sunday afternoons. The hustle and bustle of the work week is just a memory, the weekend errands have been run, and in the quiet of a Sunday afternoon, I find peace. There is just something about the comfort of resting on the couch half paying attention to football while browsing food blogs on the iPad, listening to Neil practice, while the wafting aromas of a big Sunday meal fills our home. Sundays are excellent. I think many families cook large meals on Sundays because there is more time to enjoy the cooking process, and it’s almost guaranteed everyone will be home as opposed to busy weeknights when the family is shuffling back and forth between extracurricular events. Today is Super Bowl Sunday. Although we are not attending a large football party, you can bet we’ll be making a meal that we couldn’t pull off during the week.
This lasagna is the perfect healthy dish to make on a Sunday afternoon. It brings a warmth of flavor and heartiness of a big meal without all the extra carbs or calories. Thin layers of eggplant sub for the pasta in this dish, and a variety of colorful vegetables paired with the creamy ricotta make this dish a comforting one that will readily gather your family around the table. This lasagna, like most, makes great leftovers that are quick to dish up during the week!
1 large eggplant, sliced thinly lengthwise
1/2 fennel bulb, medium chop
1 orange bell pepper, medium chop
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 small yellow squash, cut into half moons
1 pound frozen chopped spinach, cooked and well drained
8 oz. button mushrooms, quartered
1/2 cup roasted pine nuts
15 oz. part-skim ricotta
1 teaspoon Kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (add more if you would like more heat)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 jar tomato sauce, homemade preferred
Preheat oven to 400°. First, create the “pasta.” Slice eggplant thinly using a mandolin or very sharp knife. Lay flat on kitchen towels and sprinkle with salt to extract any bitterness. Allow to rest for 30 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine ricotta, spinach, 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes in a bowl and set aside.
Bring a sauté pan to medium heat. Add the olive oil to the pan and sauté the fennel, bell pepper, garlic, squash, and mushrooms together with another 1/2 teaspoon salt for about 15 minutes.
Build the lasagna by first coating the bottom of a 9x13x2″ glass baking dish with a thin layer of sauce. Lay eggplant slices side by side to crate an even layer.
Then add a fourth of the ricotta mixture and a fourth of the vegetable mixture.
Continue this process until all ingredients are layered. Top lasagna with the Monterey Jack cheese and cover with foil.
Bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and broil for 5 minutes or until cheese on the top browns. Allow to cool for 10 minutes.
Cut into large squares and serve.