Jersey Eggplant and Squash Lasagna with Homemade Jersey Tomato Sauce
I knew fall was coming soon when I recently picked an apple from the orchard. Summer went by too quick! It may be the fact that I had two classes all summer and I finally get a 2 week break or the fact that school products are out in stores.
The recipe redux theme for August is to provide a meal to get "back to the dinner table." The dinner table is more than just eating dinner, it is bonding time with the family, updating everyone on their day at school or work, and enjoying the love a family provides. I know in my family, we have dinner at 5 pm every night and I look forward to that time with my family. I believe that our dinners together made us a closer family.
When I think of meals that bring families together, Italian meals come to my mind. My recipe for eggplant and squash lasagna is a great dish to make a few days ahead or to freeze. Even though summer may be ending, we don't want to forget the fresh, local Jersey produce. In this recipe, I take advantage of Jersey tomatoes, eggplant, basil, and squash. The tomato sauce is made from scratch, but it can be made now for the winter or a jar tomato sauce can be used (but there is nothing like homemade Jersey tomato sauce!).
Another way to bond with the family is to get the kids involved in the preparing and cooking process. This is a perfect dish for the kids to be involved in. This dish took a while to make, so I recommend making it on a Sunday or day off around the house, letting it sit over night, heating it up, and serving the next or few days after. I personally love when lasagna sits over night and reheating it. Another option is making a big batch now, since the fresh produce won't be around all year, and freezing it for a Jersey fresh taste in the winter (and easy meal!). Enjoy with the recipe below.
Eggplant and Squash Lasagna
Homemade Jersey Tomato Sauce
Time: 3.5 hours
Makes: about 2 cups
- 11 tomatoes, cut into 6-8 slices each tomato
- 1 cooking onion, sliced
- 5 garlic cloves, cut into 3 slices
- Olive oil
- Salt & Pepper
- Handful of parsley
- Handful of basil
- 1 tbsp dried oregano (I didn't have fresh oregano)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Slice tomatoes, onion, and garlic cloves. Add to baking sheet (I used two, but one will be fine).
- Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper. Stir to combine into tomato, onion, and garlic mixture.
- Bake for 2.5 hrs, stirring once an hour. Remove from oven.
- Using either an immersion blender or food processor, blend the tomato mixture to preference of a more chunky sauce or smoother sauce. (I like my sauce a little chunky, so I mixed it until I liked the texture.)
- Place sauce into a sauce pan, add basil, parsley, and oregano; stir together, cover with lid. Simmer the sauce on low for a half hour to an hour to combine the flavors.
- All this sauce is used in the recipe below. Double the recipe to freeze for later use.
Eggplant and Squash Lasagna
Time: 2+ hours
Makes: fills a 2.5 qt pan, about 9- 3x3in slices
- 1 large eggplant, thinly sliced
- 2 summer squash (we used green and yellow), thinly sliced laterally
- 2 cups panko breadcrumbs
- 2 tbsp Italian Seasoning
- 1 egg
- 4 egg whites
- 2 cups tomato sauce (recipe above)
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
- 1.5 cups part skim ricotta cheese
- 2 cups part skim shredded mozzarella cheese
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Remove some skin from the eggplant and squash (shown below). Slice eggplant in thin circles and the squash lengthwise.
- On a plate, make a paper towel layer, than place a layer of the squash, repeat to drain extra fluid.
- On a baking sheet, make a paper towel layer, sprinkle with salt, place a layer of eggplant, and repeat. Place something heavy on top. Let it sit for 1 hr to 90 minutes to remove some bitterness and water. Rinse off the salt and pat dry.
- Mix the egg and egg whites in a container. In another container mix the breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, and Italian seasoning. Dip the eggplant in the egg mixture than into the breadcrumbs on each side. Place eggplant on a baking sheet with wax paper and sprayed with olive oil.
- Bake egg plant for 30 minutes, flipping half way through.
- Time to make the lasagna! Using a 2.5 qt pan make layers of: sauce, eggplant, ricotta mixture, mozzarella, squash, and repeat. At the end, top with mozzarella cheese.
- Bake at 375 degrees F for 45 min to 1 hour.
- Let it cool and plate or freeze for later. Enjoy!
What do you do when you have extra baked eggplant? You make eggplant pizzas! So good!
Panko breaded eggplant (extra from recipe above)
Jersey tomato slices
Part skim mozzarella cheese
Bake eggplant and tomato for 15 minutes than top with cheese and bake for 10 more min.