Well hello there! I know, I've been totally MIA all summer, but I'm finally getting the itch to get back into the kitchen. Our little electric grill out on the patio has gotten plenty of use this summer, but the kitchen is just too hot and windowless -- not exactly my idea of where I want to hang out during nice weather. I think I was so blog-crazy last winter because the kitchen was so warm and cozy, and there was nothing better to do!
|*Dramatic reenactment of my face every morning on the subway*|
Pasta-Less Lasagna for Two*
(*Two very, very hungry adults -- we have enough leftovers for one of us to have it tomorrow.)
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb ground beef, cooked
1 large jar store-bought tomato sauce
(...or you can make your own sauce, however you normally do it)
16 oz part-skim ricotta
1 cup chopped frozen spinach, thawed and drained
pinch of nutmeg
1 medium eggplant
2 medium zucchini
fresh mozzarella (sorry, forgot to check exactly how much.. it was a fresh, small ball)
First, prep and sweat the eggplant and zucchini. With either a mandoline or a large, sharp knife, carefully slice the zucchini lengthwise into 1/4 inch slices and the eggplant slightly thicker because it's the bottom layer. Place the slices into a mesh colander set in the sink or on a rimmed baking sheet. Generously salt the veggies on both sides. I'm talking a ton of salt. It's okay, you're washing it off later. In just a few minutes, you will literally see beads of "sweat" coming off the veggies. Let them sit and sweat for at least 30 minutes... work on the other steps during this time.
Second, while the veggies are sweating like a hooker in church, make the sauce. You can use your own recipe, but here's how I make mine. I basically take a very plain, low-sugar jarred sauce and doctor it up. Saute the onion and garlic in a hot saute pan, and then pour it into a medium-sized deep pot. Next, cook the ground beef in the same hot pan and then add it to the onion, garlic. Finally, pour in the jarred sauce, stir and cook on medium-low heat until it's cooked through. Add the salt, pepper and cayenne to taste. Set aside.
Third, in a small bowl, mix together the ricotta, spinach and pinch of nutmeg. Set aside.
Finally, assembly time! I used a 10 inch x 5 inch loaf pan. Spray all sides with cooking spray. As I said above, you can really layer this however you want, but always start with a layer of tomato sauce because anything else will stick to the bottom of the pan and burn. And end with mozzarella because it browns so nicely at the very end. My order: sauce, eggplant (thicker pieces for the bottom layer), ricotta/spinach, sauce, zucchini, ricotta/spinach, sauce, zucchini, pesto, mozzarella. Or something like that.
Bake for 40 minutes in a 400 degree oven. Broil it on high for a few minutes to get the top cheese layer all brown and pretty. Just watch the oven closely until it's a good color. Then, very important, let it rest and cool for at least 15 minutes. I was antsy and Todd was hungry, so we dug in too fast and it was sort of messy looking. But it was delicious!