My mom and I used to make lasagna together when I was a kid.
While it was always fun to make, it never turned out just right. The noodles were often broken in the box, and then would stick together in the water. For the filling, we used a mixture of frozen (thawed) chopped spinach and ricotta, plopped between layers of noodles and sauce. Lots of sauce, of course, hoping that maybe this time it wouldn’t dry out!
But it did. The edges of the noodles were curled and crisp, and the filling was dry . . . not at all like that soft, cheesy, inexplicably yummy frozen lasagna you could get at Sam’s Club. (If you are Italian, I’m sorry I just said that. You have to understand that Austin was a small town back then. The only place to find middle-class lasagna in the 1980s in Austin was at Sam’s Club or Olive Garden.)
So over the years, I’ve tried a few lasagna recipes and have yet to find one that is both easy and delicious. And then this happened: In a rush to get something on the table for dinner, I opened the freezer and saw a bag of Trader Joe’s Grilled Eggplant and Zucchini sitting next to a tupperware of frozen meat sauce . . . .
Ta-da! It’s lasagna without the noodles! It’s Eggplant Parmesan without the hassle! It’s done in thirty minutes! Most importantly, it’s delicious! Hope you get a chance to try it.
P.S. My mom loves it, too!
Easy Eggplant Lasagna
1 bag Trader Joe’s Misto alla Griglia (marinated grilled eggplant and zuchinni), thawed
2 cups of your favorite marinara or bolognese sauce
1 – 1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese (depending how cheesy you like it!)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Place one layer of eggplant and/or zucchini in the bottom of a small (2.2 L) pyrex dish.
Cover with sauce, mozzarella, and Parmesan cheese.
Add a second layer of eggplant and zucchini.
Cover that layer with the rest of your sauce and cheeses.
Bake uncovered at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes. Switch oven to broil. Broil 1-2 minutes, or just long enough to cause the cheese on top to start to brown and bubble. (Be careful! Everyone’s broiler is different — some are hot and fast and some are slower. I recommend that you keep the oven door open or check it often to make sure the lasagna isn’t burning.) Once the cheese is bubbly and a little brown, remove lasagna from oven. Let cool for 10 minutes and serve.
Goes well with Casear salad! For the dressing, I love to use Cardini’s Original Caesar, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, grated Parmesan cheese, and black pepper. Also goes really well with warm homemade bread . . . but then again, what doesn’t :)