Pesto Ricotta & Eggplant “Lasagne”Posted: October 1, 2012 | |
(Becky, the Mama.)
Yesterday I went on a wild cooking spree, working as I do, at top speed, to get several dishes prepared. Then once the kitchen looked like it had been ransacked by a herd of goats with ADD, I started in to clean it. When I load the dishwasher, I know that my husband is pulled in two emotional directions. On the one hand, he is glad that I’m the one loading it so he doesn’t have to. On the other hand, he is nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs, knowing that I will take a lot of creative license in my loading technique. He is the one who first said, “Becky, you load a dishwasher just like a drunk monkey.”
In this case, a picture may be worth a paragraph of words:
Greg is my daughter’s stepdad, but in organization and cleanliness, you’d swear they were related by blood. So, for fun, I sent the picture above to Rachel, and within minutes she sent me this side-by-side comparison:
People ask, “Do your dishes get clean when you load them this way?” And I say, “Not all of them. But, miraculously, about 90 percent of them DO!” I can deal with the other 10 percent later, when I hurriedly run them through the dishwasher again.
Though the kitchen was a disaster for awhile, I did produce several mouth-watering dishes. (Some to be shared in later posts.) The first dish I made was born from a love of the flavors in pesto, but discouragement with the pesto calories. I wondered what it would taste like to fuse all the ingredients in classic pesto with ricotta cheese, cutting out the olive oil. Part skim ricotta has a generous amount of protein while low in calories. I LOVED the results. Light, lemony and creamy with the crunch of walnuts, the zip of basil and garlic. With the addition of a little Greek Yogurt it made a wonderful dip for veggies and topping for crostinis. (Small slices of French bread, toasted, usually with olive oil.)
Then I wondered how this “pesto ricotta” would taste with broiled eggplant, in layers, with a marinara sauce? I could have eaten the entire pan full of it, but my 22 year old nephew Jordan – who is living with us now, and had never had eggplant before in his life – beat me to it! He gave it two enthusiastic thumbs up. It’s an easy, tender, healthy and vegetarian dish, loaded with flavor, that I will definitely be making again. I bet the pesto ricotta would also be amazing on hot pasta with roasted veggies, maybe some sliced vegan or Italian sausage…..
16 oz. Part Skim Ricotta Cheese (Vegans can sub Tofutti or mashed drained, white beans. If you use it to make the eggplant dish, mashed cooked white potatoes would also be great.)
Juice of one lemon, plus all of its zest
½ c. walnuts
Big handful of basil
2 cloves fresh garlic, peeled
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (Vegans omit or sub with Vegan Parm cheese)
Salt and pepper to taste
Put all ingredients into a food processor and process until walnuts are chopped fine and rest of ingredients are well blended. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Ricotta Pesto Topping for Veggies and Crostini
Use the recipe above, but add 2 T. plain Greek yogurt. Stir and serve with crisp veggies and crostinis
Ricotta Pesto Eggplant “Lasagne”
Recipe of Ricotta Pesto Above
2 Eggplants, peeled and sliced ¼ inch rounds
Approximately ¼ cup olive oil
Salt and Pepper
3 cups marina, your favorite brand or homemade (I whirl 28 oz can crushed tomatoes in a blender with garlic, 1/4 onion, handfull of basil, dash red wine, 1 t. oregano, 1 T. brown sugar, 1 t. salt — simmer a few minutes and call it marinara.)
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese (more if you like)
Heat oven to Broil. Place eggplant slices in a single layer on a large cookie sheet. Brush with olive oil, season very lightly with salt and pepper.
Broil about 4 inches from heat, keeping a close eye on the eggplant. As soon as it begins to turn golden in places, take the cookie sheet out of the oven, carefully turn over the eggplant with a flat spatula, brush with more olive oil and salt and pepper. Broil this side, too, until slightly golden and eggplant is pliable and soft. Take out of oven, let cool a bit.
Change oven temp to 350 degrees for baking.
Grease a square pan or round pan with a little olive oil. Place one layer of eggplant in pan. (Using 1/3 of the eggplant slices.) Top with ½ the ricotta mixture. Top with 1 cup marinara sauce. Layer again with eggplant, ricotta, and marinara in the same portions. Top with layer of eggplant and final cup of marinara.
Top with grated Parmesan cheese. Bake for about 25 minutes until dish begins to bubble and Parm is golden brown. Let sit for 10- 15 minutes before cutting in slices to serve.
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The Title: Pesto Ricotta & Eggplant”Lasagne”
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