Eggplant and Potato Lasagna-Style Casserole with Tomato-Vegetable Sauce
This healthy vegetable lasagna is bubbling with tastes of a fall harvest.
- 3-4 medium-size firm eggplants, sliced into 1/4-inch-thick discs
- About 1 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- 1 large clove garlic, crushed, plus 3 cloves thinly sliced or chopped
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 4-5 medium-size thin-skinned potatoes, such as Yukon or Adirondack, sliced 1/4-inch thick
- 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
- 2-3 ribs celery and leafy tops, finely chopped
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 frying peppers or cubanelle peppers, finely chopped
- 1 small chili pepper, finely chopped
- 1 can San Marzano tomatoes (28 ounces)
- A few leaves of basil, torn
- 3/4 pound ball fresh mozzarella
- 1 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, divided
- Spread the eggplant slices on a kitchen towel or paper towels and season with salt; let drain for 15 minutes.
- Pre-heat the oven to 425ºF with two racks in the upper and lower third of oven.
- In a small pot over medium heat, heat the EVOO, about 1 cup, with 1 clove crushed garlic and 2 sprigs of rosemary. When the garlic bubbles, turn off the heat and let stand for 5-10 minutes.
- Brush the eggplant lightly with EVOO infused with garlic and rosemary and arrange on two large nonstick baking sheets. Reserve the remaining EVOO. Bake the eggplant for 10-12 minutes, then turn the eggplant and switch the baking racks and roast for 12-15 minutes more, until golden but not dry. Remove to a plate and cool to handle.
- Place the potatoes in cold water and bring to a boil. Salt the water and cook to barely tender, 3-5 minutes; drain and cool. Heat a few tablespoons of the garlic oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the potatoes in a single layer and brown and crisp on each side, like thick potato chips, 5-8 minutes total. Remove to a cooling rack, season with salt.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of reserved EVOO in a saucepot over medium heat. Add the carrots, celery, onion, peppers, chopped garlic, salt and pepper. Cover and sweat the vegetables, 7-8 minutes. Add the tomatoes and break up into small pieces. Add the basil and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes or so to thicken.
- Slice the mozzarella into very thin half moons.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 350ºF.
- Arrange 1 cup of sauce in a small casserole dish. Shingle the eggplant in tight-fitting rows and after every two rows, shingle in a row of crispy potatoes. Arrange half of the mozzarella and half of the Parmigiano Reggiano over the first row. Top with another cup of sauce and the remaining eggplant and potatoes. Dot the top of the casserole with last few spoons of sauce and arrange the mozzarella around the top – it will not cover the entire surface, just arrange here and there evenly. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmigiano Reggiano.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes until brown and bubbly. Let cool for 15 minutes, then cut into six portions and serve warm.