Do you remember the classic Sicilian pasta dish Pasta alla Norma that I posted a while back? It's a great vegetarian dish made with eggplant, capers and tomatoes. Well, I thought it might be fun to turn it into a lasagna for this post.
It's very simple to make - the method I prefer for the eggplant is just to roast it in the oven instead of frying. I like it much better this way and it's in fact a lot easier and uses a lot less oil. The whole lasagna can be assembled ahead of time if you want and refrigerated. Just bring it to room temperature a bit before popping it in the oven to bake.
ceramic plate from Fifty One and a Half
This lasagna calls for Ricotta Salata, a wonderful white cheese that you can grate easily. You should be able to find this cheese now at better grocery stores. It has a sharp bite to it that's really great. If you can't find it, you could use some feta as a substitute but it won't be quite the same.
I love self contained cheese graters that let you catch the grated cheese
In this recipe, I used Barilla no-boil lasagna noodles. It's not a noodle that I use a lot but I know so many people like to use them that I wanted to use them in this recipe. They require that you use plenty of sauce so that the noodles soften during cooking. They do save time by not having to boil the noodles. If you don't want to use them, just use whichever lasagna noodle that you like.
Lasagna alla Norma
for a printable recipe click here
serves 10 - 12
for the roasted eggplant:
- 2 large eggplants, cut into barely one inch cubes
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
for the sauce:
- 1/2 cup finely diced onion
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- sea salt
- 4 cloves garlic finely minced or grated
- 1 heaping tablespoon capers packed in salt, chopped coursely
- 2 28-ounce cans of tomato puree or sauce
- 1 teaspoon red hot chili flakes
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
for the lasagna
- 2 boxes of Barilla no boil lasagna noodles (or whatever lasagna noodles you like)
- 8 ounces Ricotta Salata cheese
- 1/2 cup julienned fresh basil leaves
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella
- 1 teaspoon oregano
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. (use convection if you have it). Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with foil and spray with Pam (cooking spray). Place the eggplant ingredients in a large bowl and toss everything together well. Place half of the eggplant on each baking pan. Roast the eggplant for about 25 minutes, rotating pans if you do not have a convection oven. Remove from oven and set aside.
In a medium saute pan, add the olive oil, onion and salt and cook over low heat until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and capers cook one minute more. Increase heat just a little and add the canned tomatoes, chili flakes and oregano. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
In a 13x9 baking pan, place about ¾ cup of the sauce in the bottom of the pan and spread it out to cover the entire bottom. Boil the lasagna noodles if you are not using the no-boil kind. If you are using the Barilla noodles, place 6 noodles in one layer, covering the whole pan. Add about a cup of sauce and spread on the noodles, making sure they all are covered in sauce. Add more sauce if you need to in order to cover the noodles. Place a fourth of the eggplant on the tomato sauce, a fourth of the ricotta salata and a few of the basil leaves for one layer. Repeat three times more. For the last layer, place 6 noodles on top and cover with the remaining sauce. Sprinkle with the mozzarella and oregano. Cover tightly with nonstick foil or use regular foil, spraying the underside with cooking spray.
Bake for about 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for about 15 minutes before slicing to serve.