I just love me a good, healthy, low carb meal that is easy to make and tastes sensational.  This Eggplant Lasagne ticked absolutely every box and it makes a large lasagne so we had lunch the next day and even some left over to freeze.  You seriously do not miss the meat in a recipe like this and for me, that is the key to really good vegetarian food.  The smokey flavour of thick slices of chargrilled eggplant lasagne sheets, layered with a rich red wine sauce, laden with earthy mushrooms, lentils and artichokes.  The  ricotta topping was super easy to assemble and gave the dish a lusciousness without the richness of a bechamel.  I loved this dish, it just screamed of goodness and I have no doubt it will be on high rotation in my kitchen.

Prep time:  45  Minutes

Cooking time:  1 Hour

$$ Medium Budget

Serves 6-8

For the Eggplant Lasagne:

2-3 large eggplants (I used two super huge ones), sliced 1cm thick, lengthways

1/2 a cup of olive oil

1 large red or brown onion (I only had a red in the pantry), finely diced

600gm of portobello mushrooms, finely chopped

4 cloves of garlic, finely minced

1 tsp of chilli flakes

1 tsp of dried oregano

1/2 a cup of dry red wine

2 x 400gm tins of lentils, drained and rinsed

600ml bottle of good quality tomato passata

2 tbs of good balsamic vinegar

1 tin of artichoke hearts, drained and roughly chopped

1/2 a bunch of basil leaves, roughly chopped

1/2 a teaspoon of sugar

1 bag of baby spinach leaves

Sea salt & cracked pepper

Dried Oregano and parmesan cheese for sprinkling

For the Ricotta topping:

200gm of ricotta cheese

100ml of pure cream

2 egg yolks

1/2 a cup of grated parmesan cheese

Sea salt & Cracked pepper

To prepare the eggplant lasagne sheets, heat a griddle pan or BBQ to nice and hot.  Lay the eggplant slices in the pan and brush with a little oil on the upside, once nice and charred on the underside, flip and brush with a little more oil.  This will obviously need to be done in batches and is probably the most time consuming part.  Try not to brush on too much oil either, eggplant is extremely thirsty and will soak it all up.  A light smear is all it needs and it really helps to tenderise the eggplant as well as add flavour.  Once cooked, set aside on a plate or tray while you make the sauce.

To make the sauce, heat a little oil in a large frying pan and fry the onion until just starting to soften.  Increase the heat to nice and high and add the mushrooms, stirring to combine.  Fry the mushrooms for a good 4-5 minutes until they turn nice and golden (this adds flavour and helps to get rid of any water in the mushies).  Once golden, reduce the heat a little and add the garlic, chilli flakes and oregano.  Fry for a minute and then pour in the red wine and allow the wine to reduce by about half.  Once the wine is reduced, add the lentils, passata and balsamic vinegar and season with salt, pepper and sugar.  Reduce the heat and allow to simmer for as long as you like for maximum flavour but a good 10 minutes will do if you are in a hurry.  Just before assembling the Eggplant Lasagne, fold through the artichokes and fresh basil.  Folding them through will help them to stay together so that when you eat it, you can taste the artichokes.

To make the ricotta topping, place all ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk to combine.

To assemble the Eggplant Lasagne, drizzle a little oil on the base of a good sized lasagne dish.  Lay eggplant slices on the bottom, making sure there are no gaps.  Cover the eggplant slices with a thin layer of baby spinach leaves and then cover with 1/3 of the mushroom mixture and repeat with the remaining eggplant, spinach leaves and sauce so that you have 3 layers of sauce and 4 layers of eggplant.  Once the last eggplant layer is on top, press down gently with your palms so that everything is nice and compressed and then pour over the ricotta topping.  Scatter over the parmesan and oregano flakes and bake in a 180°C preheated oven for approximately 40-45 minutes or until golden and bubbling.  Remove the Eggplant Lasagne from the oven and allow to rest for a good 10-15 minutes before slicing, to help maintain its shape.  Serve with baby salad leaves or a salad or veg of your choice.

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