Maria’s Vegetarian No-Pasta Eggplant, Spinach and Mushroom “Lasagna”

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eggplant

This is a vegetarian’s Italian delight, a “Meatless-Monday” dinner or an interesting vegetable side-dish for those who want to serve it alongside a meat entrée.

The Globe Eggplant is ideal for almost any cooking application. It also has fewer seeds than other varieties. Choose a small to medium sized eggplant that is firm and heavy.

Leave the purple skin on because an antioxidant called nasunin is found in the skin and protects your cells from free radical damage. Nasunin is an anthocyanin found in fruits and vegetables with red, blue and purple hues. Purple eggplant also contains another antioxidant, chlorogenic acid and it is thought to have anti-cancer properties.

Eating eggplant is going to fill you up without very many calories. One cup of cooked eggplant contains just 28 calories. Eggplant is also a good source of dietary fiber, with 2.5 grams per serving.

Be sure to read all the science backed benefits of eggplant. This is the most detailed compilation I have seen!

Side Note: Roasted eggplant makes a versatile side dish. Just follow my directions for roasting the eggplant in this recipe and when you pull it out of the oven drizzle with lemon, balsamic vinegar or your favorite vinaigrette.

6-8 servings

1 large globe eggplant, washed well, ends cut off and sliced lengthwise 3/4-inch thick

Kosher salt

¼ cup olive oil, divided plus more to grease baking dish

Salt and ground black pepper

3 cups thinly sliced cremini mushrooms

4 cups spinach or mixture of spinach, kale and Swiss chard

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon freshly chopped thyme leaves or 3/4 tsp dried thyme

1 (15-ounce) container skim milk ricotta cheese

2 large eggs

1/2 cup grated Parmesan, divided

½ tsp dried oregano

2 cups Marinara Sauce

3 cups skim mozzarella, shredded

Arrange sliced eggplant in a single layer onto two paper towel lined baking sheet pans. Sprinkle liberally with kosher salt (It adheres best to the eggplant) on both sides, cover with more paper towel. Let sit for 30 minutes. Rinse and pat dry.

Preheat oven to 475 degrees.

Wipe down the baking sheets. Brush eggplant lightly on both sides using 3 tablespoons of oil (or less if you can) and season with salt and pepper. Place onto baking sheets. Roast the eggplant until it is soft and golden. Turn slices halfway through, about 22-25 minutes.20151001_162248

Meanwhile, in a medium skillet add the remaining 1 tablespoons of oil and the sliced mushrooms. Sauté until soft for about 6 minutes. Add the minced garlic and chopped thyme. Cook for another 2 minutes. Once the mushrooms are cooked remove and set aside to cool. Dab up any extra liquid with paper towel.

In a large bowl add the ricotta, eggs, 1/2 cup Parmesan, oregano, 1 teaspoons of salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Mix well. Brush an 8-inch baking dish with oil.

Decrease oven to 400 degrees F.

In a lightly oiled 9 x 13  baking dish, layer:

½ the Sauce

Eggplant

½ the ricotta

Mushrooms

Spinach

½ the ricotta

Other half Sauce

Mozzarella

Bake until golden brown, at 350 degrees, for 30 – 40 minutes.

This makes wonderful leftovers. Here I have placed a cold piece of the “lasagna” on some power greens. Cover with a microwave cover and reheat in the microwave. The greens nicely wilt, the lasagna reheats and you have a filling meal.

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