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Eggplant Lasagna

Am I crazy for turning my oven on in this 100° weather? Maybe.

I don’t care. This lasagna is worth it. It’s ridiculously delicious.

This recipe came to me in a dream. True story. I take that as a sign that this lasagna MUST be shared with the world. You’re welcome. (I’m also pretty sure Neil Patrick Harris was in the same dream…possibly as Barney Stinson…eating whole eggplants. Random? Yes, but pretty typical for my weird-o brain. I should probably stop watching HIMYM before bedtime).

**Wow, I just reread that last part and could hear NPH speaking it. Get out of my brain!**

I wanted to have a lasagna that was heavy on the veggies, but have a texture and consistency similar to “typical” lasagnas.

After I cooked the sauce in a dutch oven, I let it cool a bit; then add the whole thing to my food processor (you could use a blender too).

By pureeing the sauce, it becomes a veggie-marinara. Tastes like “typical” marinara but is more rich in vitamins. Plus, it gets a fun orange color.

It’s JBird approved.

What you’ll need :

– 12 whole wheat lasagna noodles

-16oz part skim ricotta

– 1 cup shredded mozzarella 

-1 cup grated parmesan

– 1 eggplant; thinly sliced

-1 zucchini; shredded

-5 carrots; peeled and shredded

– 5 ripe tomatoes; whole with the tops cut off

-6 cloves of garlic; chopped

-1 onion; chopped

-2 tbsp olive oil

-1 handful fresh basil; whole leaves

-1 tsp dried oregano

-1 tsp garlic powder

-1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

-1 tsp seasoned salt

-salt and pepper

Let’s get saucy! In a dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over high heat. Once the oil is nice and hot, add your chopped onions and garlic. Add a few grinds of salt and pepper, and cook until the onions are tender.

Now, add the whole tomatoes, basil, shredded carrots and zucchini to the dutch oven. Cover, turn your heat down to low and let simmer for 2-3 hours; stirring occasionally.

In a small bowl, combine ricotta, parmesan, oregano, garlic powder, crushed red pepper flakes and seasoned salt. Ricotta is virtually flavorless, so by adding some spices it really “peps” it up a bit. Plus, I love the combination of cheeses in the layers of this dish. Super tasty. Set your cheese mixture aside (preferably in your refrigerator) until you’re ready to assemble your lasagna.

Once the veggies in your sauce have had a chance to break down and “mingle” together, remove your dutch oven from the heat and let cool uncovered for about 10 minutes. **It doesn’t need to be completely cool, just not HOT enough to cause damage to your food processor (or blender)** Puree on low until everything is a uniform consistency (i.e.: no more chunks of tomatoes or zucchini). Pour the blended sauce back into your dutch oven, put back on your burner and let cook, covered, for an additional 30-45 minutes. You could also use an immersion blender to puree everything IN your dutch oven! They are super handy and I will forever regret giving mine away. One of my few regrets in life. C’est la vie. 

Tip: I usually add about 1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese to the sauce at this point. Just for kicks. You can leave it out but I think it takes the sauce to a whole new level…so, do it!

Preheat your oven to 375°. Place uncooked noodles in a large pot of boiling walter. You don’t need to cook them completely; you just want to soak them long enough so they cooperate with you (i.e. flexible, not rigid). About 5 minutes.

In a greased 9×13 pan, cover the bottom of the dish with a thin layer of veggie sauce. Layer your lasagna as follows:

Noodles-Sauce-Sliced Eggplant-Sauce-Ricotta/Parmesan

Noodles-Sauce-Sliced Eggplant-Sauce-Ricotta/Parmesan

Noodles-Sauce-Mozzerella!

Phew, that was a workout! Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes; or until the top is nice and bubbly.

Tip: I usually spray the foil with a non-stick spray so the cheese doesn’t stick it

Let sit for 10 minutes before serving. Trust me, this dish is legend…wait for it…dary.

Serves 12

Tip: You could easily make this sauce in a slow cooker if you’d like. Just pop all your ingredients into the slow cooker, put on the lid, and cook on LOW for 8 hours. Heck, you could make the sauce ahead of time (like on a Sunday), then assemble you’re lasagna in the slow cooker the next day! By the time you get home from work, it’ll be ready to devour! I just love slow cookers. 

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I love when two amazingly delicious things are combined into one spectacular culinary delight.

Peanut Butter and Chocolate

Bacon and Anything

Chicken Carbonara and Lasagna?….say what?!

My friend Riley shared this recipe with me a few weeks back; it literally blew my mind.

*I’ve tweaked things just a bit to make them more “feelgoodfoodie friendly”…however, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the results


Chicken Carbonara Lasagna

You will need:

-10-12 no-boil lasagna noodles

-1 16oz bag of frozen peas (or 2 cups of fresh peas!)

-2 uncooked boneless chicken breasts; seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic powder

-1/2 c of low sodium chicken stock

– 1/2 a pound of all natural uncured bacon (or a full pound if you’re feeling extra daring); cooked and crumbled

-1 c. shredded mozzarella (I like to use the fresh stuff)

-1  c. shredded cheddar (I like to used aged cheddar)

For the Sauce:

-1 16oz container of organic half and half

-1 cup low sodium chicken stock

-1/2 c freshly grated parmesan cheese

-2-3 gloves of garlic; chopped

– fresh basil; a handful, chopped

-salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 375°.
In a large skillet, fry up the bacon! (mmm..bacon). Once your bacon is cooked to your liking, set aside. Let the “drippings” cool, then pour into a bowl. DO NOT clean your pan…all that residual bacon-y goodness is your friend.(everyone has different ways of discarding of bacon grease…I’m sure you do too..do so…now!) *

Place un-clean bacon skillet back onto the burner. Once it’s nice and hot, add your seasoned chicken breasts. Cover and let cook on high for 2-3 minutes. Add the 1/2 cup of chicken stock, flip the chicken, turn the heat down to medium and cover again. Let simmer for 15-20 minutes. **the extra splash of chicken stock acts to break up the cooked on bacon-y goodness. It also keeps moisture in the chicken while it simmers…and it’s pretty darn tasty too**

Once your chicken is cooked all the way through, remove it from the pan, shred it up with a fork, and set aside for the time being. Don’t clean the pan. All those tasty brown bits will make your sauce AWESOME. Put the pan back onto your stove. Here comes the fun part…

Heat the pan to medium-high heat (which shouldn’t take long since you JUST cooked your chicken in this pan). Add 1/2 cup of the chicken stock to the pan. Using a wooden spoon, scrape the bottom of the pan to break all the cooked on chicken/bacon remnants free. After your pan has been deglazed, add the chopped up garlic, basil and half & half. Give it a good stir, cover and let simmer for 5-10 minutes; stirring occasionally. Now, add the parmesan cheese and remaining 1/2 cup of chicken stock. Stir and cover for another 10 minutes; stirring occasionally so the sauce doesn’t burn. That would be a big bummer.

Once your sauce starts to bubble, add the peas and chicken to the skillet. Mix everything together until well combined; then turn the burner off.

In a small bowl, combine the shredded cheeses (this step isn’t necessary but will make “layering” your lasagna easier)

In a greased 9×13 baking dish, spoon out a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of the pan. Add a layer of noodles. Top the noodles with another layer of sauce. Sprinkle with a third of your crumbled bacon; then add half of your cheese mixture. Cover with another layer of noodles and spoon out the rest of your sauce. Take another third of your bacon and sprinkle it over the sauce; add the rest of your cheese. Now, sprinkle the rest of your bacon on top of the cheese. Have I mentioned that I love bacon?

Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 5-15 minutes; or until the cheese is browned and ooey-gooey.

Remove from oven and let sit for 5-10 minutes

Cut. Serve. Devour. (Pairs great with a large salad of fresh greens and a light vinaigrette…and a big ol’ class of wine)

Makes 10-12 servings

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