I was wandering around Super Target yesterday with no idea what I wanted to cook or buy. It was a stupid trip, but at least I didn't leave the store with a bunch of crappy shirts that I would later hate. Somewhere along the way, I picked up some no-boil lasagna noodles and that got the ball rolling. Produce at Super Target is generally Super Crappy, so I bought an eggplant and some baby bella mushrooms, and that was that.
Here's what I made up.
1 eggplant, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
Olive oil, of course
Lots of garlic, like 4 or 5 big fat cloves, minced
2 tsp dried basil (use lots of fresh basil if you have it, lucky dog)
A few shakes of red pepper flakes
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 medium onion, diced
8 ounces of baby bella mushrooms (or portabellas or whatever), chopped
1 big can of diced tomatoes
1 tub of ricotta
8 ounces of shredded mozzarella and parmesan (I got this all bagged and premixed)
No-boil lasagna noodles
Salt the eggplant and put it in a colander to drain. This helps get the bitterness out. Then turn your oven to 400 to preheat.
Start your sauce by heating the garlic and olive oil over medium heat. Once you can smell the garlic, shake in your red pepper and add other spices. Saute for a minute or two, then add onions. After another few minutes, add mushrooms. Cook everything down for a few minutes more, then dump in the can of tomatoes and let everything simmer while you futz around with the eggplant.
The futzing goes like this: rinse the eggplant thoroughly and pat dry. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray if you use such a thing, or just smear it with some olive oil and line up your eggplant rounds. Bake for 15 minutes while your sauce simmers. Keep an eye on the eggplant--my oven runs hot and the eggplant was roasted mushy after 15 minutes. Then crank the heat back to 325.
Okay. Now you can assemble your stuff. I had a weird oval ceramic baking dish and had to trim the noodles to get them to fit, but my final product did not suffer at all. So if for some reason you find yourself without a 9 X 13 pan, all is most certainly not lost. Just break your noodles to fit the pan and jigsaw-puzzle them together. Cover the bottom of your pan with a thin (yet chunky) layer of sauce. Then layer on some UNBOILED noodles, then a schmear of ricotta, then eggplant, then shredded cheese, then sauce. Make sure the noodles are completely covered with filling, because this moisture will cook the noodles. Repeat until you have nothing left, making sure that there is enough sauce and shredded cheese to cover the top layer of noodles. With this recipe and my weird pan, I had three layers of noodles and plenty of stuff to cover them. I could have used more eggplant, actually.
Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes, then take the foil off and bake for another ten.
Enjoy with cheap (or expensive) red wine.
N.B. If you are clever, you will have noticed that I didn't use any salt in this recipe. Between the canned tomatoes and the cheese, this dish is plenty salty. Don't take my word for it, though--taste your sauce and see if it needs salt. Yeesh.