Here was the challenge I faced: Cook something meat-free for someone on a restricted diet that forbids grains and fried food, but still have a good dose of protein. I immediately thought of eggplant lasagna, but most of the ones I’d had have meat and also have the eggplant breaded and fried. So I decided to try oven-roasting the eggplant instead, but still had to deal with the protein aspect. This led me to try something I hadn’t worked with before – tofu.
The result was a vegetarian, grain-free lasagna with three cheeses (I like cheese) and tofu. As with any recipe containing a lot of ingredients, doing all your chopping and slicing up front will make the cooking and assembly easier. Don’t overdo the salt on the eggplant, but don’t skimp on it either. Salting will take away the bitterness inherent with eggplant. Either white or red wine can be used, depending on your preference. If you don’t have a food grinder, finely shred the tofu. Either way, be sure to drain it and pat it dry before processing so as not to wind up with mush.
The result has been popular; let me know what you think.
3 large eggplants, quartered lengthwise
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Salt, as needed
1/2 medium sweet onion, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, finely chopped
3 stalks celery, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic
12 ounces tofu, extra firm, ground
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried basil
1/4 cup red wine
15 ounces ricotta cheese, part skim milk
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
3 large eggs
2 cups pasta sauce, divided
2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
Preheat oven to 400°
Cut eggplants lengthwise into 4 pieces each. Toss or spray with 2 tablespoons olive oil and some salt. Place on a baking sheet and roast in the oven 40 minutes, turning once. Meanwhile you can make the rest of the dish.
Lightly oil the bottom and sides of a 9×9 baking dish.
Grind the tofu in a food/meat grinder until it resembles hamburger.
Mix together the eggs, Parmesan and ricotta cheeses.
Saute the onion, celery and carrots in the remaining olive oil for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and herbs and cook for another 5 minutes. Add in the tofu continue to cook for another 5 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the red wine and allow to cook for another 5 minutes.
When the eggplant is done, remove from oven and reduce oven temperature to 350°
Spread 1/2 cup of pasta sauce on the bottom of the baking dish. Arrange half the eggplant in a single layer to form the base.
Spoon the vegetable/tofu mix on top of the eggplant and spread to form the second layer. Spoon the ricotta mixture on top of that and spread evenly. Top with the remaining pasta sauce. Arrange the rest of the eggplant on top of the sauce and top with the mozzarella cheese.
Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes until the cheese on top is slightly browned.
Remove from oven and allow to rest for at least 20 minutes before serving.