Once again, I faced a refrigerator filled with a surfeit of freshly harvested zucchini and eggplant. Earlier in the week, I roasted one eggplant along with some sweet potatoes to accompany a beef dish. I simply cut the eggplant into 2” cups, tossed it with oil and a mystery spice left to me by a visiting former student from Saudi Arabia; I know there is cumin and turmeric in it.
Place in a 305 degree oven with the washed sweet potatoes for about an hour. They made a nice side dish.
I did not foresee myself making sautéed zucchinis or eggplant salad with the large number of vegetables that I had. So, I decided on a noodle-less lasagne; is it still lasagna without the noodles? Nevertheless, the vegetables were combined with ground beef and lots of other stuff to make a hearty one pot dinner.
Noodle-less lasagna. Slice the zucchini and eggplant into planks about ½ inch thick.* Lightly sprinkle with salt. I meant to spray on olive oil, but forgot! Place in a 350 oven for about 30 minutes, to soften.
*Save the zucchini trimmings in the freezer with other cuttings for a future vegetable broth, as I recommended in a post earlier this year.
While the vegetables are cooking, brown the ground beef in a pan (a skill gained in early home economic classes), then set the meat aside. I also mixed the ricotta cheese with a beaten egg, thinly chopped basil, and chopped scallions (an attempt to use what was in the fridge!).
Then, cover the bottom of a roasting pan with a thin layer of tomato sauce* and start layering: first the slightly roasted vegetables, next the meat (I made only one meat layer), next the ricotta mixture, topped with dollops+ of tomato sauce and handfuls of mozzarella cheese. Top with more vegetables followed by ricotta, sauce, and mozzarella. Sprinkle the thinly chopped basil all over the place! Three layers of vegetables were topped with sauce and mozzarella, and basil. Return to 350 oven for about an hour.
*I used both homemade and jarred tomato sauce. I had a nice bunch of grape tomatoes that I halved, tossed in olive oil and salt with thyme, then roasted in a 375 oven for about an hour. When the tomatoes were cooled, I processed them in the blender and froze for a day like today.
+A dollop is “a shapeless mass or blob of something, especially soft food” if you wondered!
I think this pan must have weighed 3-5 pans, which is surprising because the resulting dish was very light and tasty.
Yes, the family savored this dish over several days. I still have three zucchinis in the crisper drawer!