At first, I honestly had no idea what to call this delicious dinner creation. On the one hand, it has all the components of eggplant parmesan, the eggplant, the breading (gluten-free), the sauce and cheese. On the other hand, it has the textures, and overflowing vegetable inside of a saucy lasagna.
It all started with a pretty bare looking fridge and a strong will to avoid going grocery shopping. With an eggplant, sauce and cheese in stock, eggplant parmesan was an obvious choice but just didn’t seem to offer enough nutritious value. Luckily, I found one very large zucchini to use, and, inspired by the recipe for “Veggie Eggplant Parmesan” from A Taste of Wellness by Rochel Weiss, I decided to turn the parmesan concept into a vegetable loaded lasagna casserole.
My favorite memories of lasagna are of my mom’s saucy lasagna where every bite was exploding with vegetables and saucy goodness. My mom has always been great at spontaneously adding vegetables into meals and is a constant inspiration for my healthy cooking.
Another valuable lasagna lesson that I learnt from my mom was that if you use enough sauce, you don’t need to boil the lasagna noodles before baking. I applied that rule to the eggplant here, and decided to forgo the frying or baking that is typically done as a separate step before layering the eggplant (also a good way to cut unnecessary calories). Fortunately, breaded eggplant and noodles are more similar than one may think, it totally worked! The resulting combination of breaded eggplant, vegetables, sauce and cheese was an amazing blend of tastes and textures and, in my opinion, can only be known as an Eggplant Parmesan Vegetable Lasagna!
Eggplant Parmesan Vegetable Lasagna
1 large eggplant
1 large zucchini, chopped small
1 small red onion, chopped small
2 tablespoon oil, divided
2 cups tomato sauce
2 cups almond flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (with extra for sprinkling on eggplant
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (or preferred cheese)
Preheat oven to 350.
Slice eggplant into pieces 1/2 inch thick. Lay eggplant slices flat on paper towel and sprinkle lightly with salt.
Sautée onion in oil on medium heat for 3-5 minutes. Add zucchini, reduce temperature to low, and cook an additional 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. While vegetables are cooking, beat eggs well and place in large shallow dish. In another large, shallow dish, mix together flour, salt, pepper and paprika. Prepare baking dish (I used an oval casserole dish, but a rectangular 9 by 13 or square 8 by 8 pan also would work) by spreading one tablespoon of oil and 5-7 tablespoons tomato sauce on the bottom, enough to cover pan. Dry off excess moisture on eggplant, then dip slices in egg, shake gently and coat in flour mixture.
Place one layer of battered eggplant on the bottom of the pan (over sauce) to cover as much space as possible (I sometimes cut the battered eggplant to fill gaps, but it’s fine of there are some empty spots…)
Cover eggplant with sautéed veggies and then top vegetable layer thinly with tomato sauce (4-5 tablespoons). Add another layer of breaded eggplant and top with remaining sauce and cheese.
Cover tightly and bake 1.5 hours, uncover and bake 10-15 more minutes, until lightly browned.
Yield: 4 servings