Of all the months for a holiday to celebrate lasagna, July wouldn’t be my first guess. But, as it goes, July 29th is National Lasagna Day — and to celebrate, I found this great recipe for lasagna that stars a summer vegetable. I followed the directions to a tee and really loved the results. It does take a lot of work, but lasagna always does. Though I did like the parsley pesto, I think next time I’ll try it with basil pesto instead.
Eggplant Lasagna with Parsley Pesto
- 1 Garlic clove, minced
- 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 5 Tablespoons flour
- 5 Cups whole milk
- 1 Bay leaf
- 1 Teaspoon salt
- 1/8 Teaspoon white (ideally) or black pepper
For Pesto-Ricotta mixture:
- 1 1/3 Cup hazelnuts, toasted, loose skin rubbed off with a kitchen towel
- 4 Cups loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 1/2 Cups finely grated parmesan
- 2/3 Cup plus 1/4 Cup olive oil
- 2 Garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 Teaspoons salt
- 1 1/4 Teaspoons black pepper
- 1 Large egg
- 15 Ounces whole milk ricotta
- 4 Medium eggplants, cut into 1/3 inch thick slices crosswise
- 6 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 Teaspoon salt
- 3/4 Teaspoon black pepper
- 9 No boil lasagna noodles
- 1 /2 ounces finely grated parmesan
1. Prepare béchamel sauce. Melt butter in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderately low heat. Stir in garlic and cook , stirring constantly, for about 1 minutes. Add flour and cook, whisking constantly, for about 3 minutes. Pour milk in a steady stream, while continuing to whisk. Add bay leaf and turn heat to medium-high, stirring constantly. When it’s boiling, reduce the heat and let béchamel simmer, now stirring only occasionally, for about 10 minutes. The liquid should be reduced to just about 4 cups. Add salt and pepper and whisk. Take off the heat, and remove and discard bay leaf. Place wax paper over the béchamel and let sit out until you’re ready to use it.
2. Prepare pesto-ricotta mixture. Measure out 1/3 cup of the hazelnuts and coarsely chop them. Set aside for garnishing the lasagna later. Add the remaining 1 cup hazelnuts, along with parsley, parmesan, 2/3 cup oil, garlic, and 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper to a food processor and puree until smooth.
3. Crack egg into a medium bowl. Whisk. Add ricotta, 1 cup parsley pesto, and remaining salt and pepper and whisk to combine well.
4. In a small bowl, add 1/4 cup pesto and 1/4 cup oil and stir to combine. Set aside to drizzle over lasagna. Refrigerate any remaining pesto for later use.
5. Arrange racks into upper 1/3 and lower 1/3 of oven. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Lightly oil 2 large baking sheets. Using a pastry brush, oil both sides of the eggplant slices. Place the slices on the baking sheets in a single layer. Sprinkle salt and pepper over the slices. Bake until tender for 20-25 minutes, turning the slices over and switch the positions of the baking sheets halfway through roasting.
6. Move oven rack to the middle position. Turn the temperature down to 425 degrees. Lightly oil 13×9 inch ceramic or glass baking dish. Line a larger, shallow baking pan with aluminum foil.
7. Add 1 cup of béchamel to the baking dish and spread with a rubber spatula. Place 3 lasagna noodles on top, leaving a little space between each noodle. Measure out another 1 cup of the pesto-ricotta mixture, and drop several small spoonfuls over the noodles. Spread with a rubber spatula to create a thin layer. Add 1 layer of eggplant without overlapping and, if necessary, cutting the eggplant to fit. Add another layer of béchamel, following by additional layer of noodles, pesto-ricotta mixture and eggplant, in that order. Spread another layer of béchamel followed by the last 3 noodles and the rest of the pesto-ricotta mixture, followed by the rest of the béchamel and the remaining eggplant. Add parmesan and chopped hazelnuts over eggplant.
8. Oil a piece of foil large enough to cover baking dish. Place the foil, oil side down, over the baking dish, and place the baking dish in the baking pan. Bake for 30 minutes. Take off foil and baking for another 10-15 minutes, or until the the lasagna is bubbling and golden. Let cool for 15-20 minutes before serving. Just before serving, drizzle with pesto.
Recipe Credit: Epicurious.