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Eggplant lasagna

Time 1 hour 55 minutes
Yields Serves 6
Eggplant lasagna
(Los Angeles Times)
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Who says Super Bowl food has to be all chips and dip? Be different: Serve food for television watching that’s good enough to be enjoyed around the table but is easy to eat.

This Italian-inspired menu is one of my favorite Sunday night suppers, and most of it can be done ahead. The eggplant lasagna is fresh-tasting and substantial without the usual amount of noodles; the eggplant partially takes their place. Pair it with a crisp romaine and endive salad tossed with roasted pepper vinaigrette and warm, crusty garlic bread. The meal calls for Chianti, which would work well with a cheese and salami board, a nice option to serve before the meal.

Mandel is author of “Celebrating the Midwestern Table” (Doubleday & Co., 1996).

Eggplant

1

Arrange eggplant slices in single layer on 2 baking sheets coated with cooking spray. Lightly spray tops with olive oil spray, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Broil eggplant on high, 1 sheet at a time, about 5 to 8 inches from heat source, until soft and lightly browned, about 2 1/2 minutes. Use spatula to turn slices, and season with salt and pepper. Broil 2 1/2 minutes more. Repeat with other baking sheet. Set aside.

Ricotta

1

Put ricotta, cheese, egg and basil in bowl of food processor and mix well, about 1 minute. Set aside.

Assembly

1

Coat 8-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Spread 1 cup sauce in dish. Place 3 lasagna noodles over sauce, slightly overlapping. Spread 1/2 ricotta mixture over noodles. Top with 4 eggplant slices. Sprinkle eggplant with 1 cup mozzarella. Repeat layering. Finish with remaining sauce and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight. Let come to room temperature before baking.

2

Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees until bubbling and lightly browned, about 55 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes. Cut into 6 squares. Serve hot or at room temperature.

These lasagna noodles are not precooked. The assembly must be done a day ahead so that the noodles soften before they are baked. But if you want to serve the lasagna shortly after its assembly, cook the noodles according to the directions on the package. Be sure to buy a very flavorful tomato sauce.