Most of the time when I create a recipe it’s because I can’t find what I am looking for anywhere else. Sometimes the reason for this is because some random thought found its way into my thoughts and it’s not exactly a combination of ingredients that are put together. I like to think of it as a fusion between two flavors or a flavor profile and another dish all together. This is one of those recipes, I found myself not wanting to make your typical Italian lasagna but having the noodles and large cans of crushed tomatoes in my pantry. There is nothing wrong with the traditional lasagna, I mean I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like at least some version of it, but it just seems like we eat so many Italian flavored pasta dishes every month that I wanted to try something new.
I planned to make this creation well over a month ago but for the life of me I could not find any eggplant in any of the stores I frequent. After a couple weeks of not finding any I asked one of the produce guys and they informed me that it would be at least another month. I finally broke down and bought one for just under $3 because I wanted to make this recipe that badly. If you knew me then you would know that it must have been a desperate situation because I am normally way to cheap to spend that kind of money on a single ingredient. Hopefully you will be able to find more affordable eggplant in your area because this recipe was very flavorful and unique, I plan to make it again soon… or whenever eggplant season begins.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Slice your eggplant into thin rounds and place on prepared baking sheets; we used two trays to fit them all. Generously salt your eggplant to help remove some of the moisture during the baking process. If you have different methods of salting your eggplant that you prefer then go ahead and do it that way. Bake for 10 – 20 minutes depending on the thickness until your eggplant is just roasted.
Meanwhile prepare your lasagna noodles as directed on the package.
While your noodles are cooking and your eggplant is roasting go ahead and make the meat sauce. Start by browning the lamb in a large skillet. When the meat is almost cooked through add the onions and cook until translucent. Add the garlic and other seasonings, stir to incorporate and let the spices cook until fragrant. Add the tomato paste and allow everything to cook together and the flavors to meld, then add the remaining canned tomatoes. Allow the sauce to simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.
While the meat sauce is simmering it’s time to make the béchamel sauce. In a medium skillet melt the butter, then whisk in the flour and allow to cook until the raw flavor is gone, or about 3 minutes. Slowly add the milk, 1 cup at a time while whisking to make sure there are no lumps. Once all the milk is added and blended allow the sauce to thicken over medium heat. Take off the heat and let cool slightly before adding the egg yolk and the nutmeg making sure to add slowly and stir constantly so that you are not left with scrambled eggs.
Gather the remaining ingredients, thinly slice your zucchini and set everything out in an assembly line starting with your prepared baking dish.
Add 1 cup of meat sauce to the bottom of the dish followed by 3 noodles.
Sprinkle half of the sliced zucchini over the top of the noodles.
Add half of the eggplant.
Cover with 1/3 of the remaining meat sauce and top with a parmesan cheese.
Spoon 1/3 of the béchamel sauce over the top.
Repeat the above layers. Followed by the last 3 noodles, the last of the meat sauce, the last of parmesan cheese and the last of the béchamel sauce. Garnish with parsley or a light dusting of nutmeg.
If you want to place in the fridge or freezer to be baked at a later time then do so now. Otherwise cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour then remove the foil and allow the top to brown. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
Much Love, Aislinn and Emily