If you love lasagna but find it too filling (or are trying to cut back on pasta), you need to try this vegetarian eggplant lasagna recipe! Mushrooms add an extra savoriness to the cheesy filling. It’s a great weeknight meal, as well as a good make-ahead option for dinner parties.
I’ll be the first to admit I love a good pasta recipe. This baked butternut squash macaroni and cheese is a personal favorite when fall and winter roll around. But it can be a bit heavy, you know?
Sometimes I want the cozy comfort of a cheesy pasta casserole without feeling like I immediately need a nap after I finish eating. That’s where this vegetarian eggplant lasagna recipe fits in beautifully!
- You can certainly make marinara from scratch if you prefer (my all-purpose tomato sauce would also work). However, I prefer to save time since the eggplant needs to be roasted and the mushrooms need to be sautéed. I’m a fan of Rao’s Homemade, which actually tastes homemade. I wasn’t paid to say that; they have no idea who I am.
- I used a 9×13 casserole dish, which is deeper than most 9×13 baking dishes (the type you would use for brownies). You want to use a casserole or lasagna pan that’s 2 1/2 – 3 inches deep.
- You’re aiming for approximately 12-15 slices of eggplant total. The eggplant will shrink as it roasts, and thicker slices mean a more textured lasagna. If you slice thinner than 3/4 inches, the roasting time will decrease, so keep an eye on them. You don’t have to salt the eggplant prior to roasting. More on this below.
I know I might get a few questions about this, so here’s the quick rundown. You do not need to salt the eggplant before roasting it. It will not impact the flavor or texture. I promise there is no bitterness in this lasagna.
You certainly can take this extra step if you want to; it won’t hurt anything. However, it will add about 30-60 minutes onto the prep time.
Salting the eggplant does have one benefit: it will extract some of the water, which can seep out of individual slices a bit on subsequent reheats. It’s a minor annoyance that to me isn’t worth the additional time. It’s not a ton of liquid.
If you want to salt the eggplant before roasting it, here’s how to do so:
- Spread out a couple wire cooling racks set over rimmed baking sheets, or place 1-2 large colanders in the sink.
- After slicing the eggplant, sprinkle each slice generously with salt (I like to salt the slices on both sides). Leave untouched for 30-60 minutes, until there are beads of water.
- Thoroughly wash the salt from the eggplant, and pat dry using paper towels (you want the slices as dry as possible before roasting). Proceed with the recipe!
- 3 large eggplants, sliced lengthwise into 3/4-inch slices (see notes)
- 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper
- 4 cups cremini mushrooms, coarsely chopped
- 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon chopped thyme leaves
- 15 ounces part-skim ricotta cheese
- 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
- 2 tablespoons chopped oregano leaves
- 2 cups marinara sauce (see notes)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Arrange sliced eggplant in a single layer on 1 large or 2 standard sheet pans lined with foil or parchment. Brush both sides using 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast the eggplant until it is soft and golden, flipping halfway through, about 25 minutes total. After removing the eggplant from the oven, lower the temperature to 350 degrees F.
- While the eggplant is roasting, heat the remaining olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add the mushrooms, and a pinch of salt. Cook for 5-7 minutes until soft and fragrant. Add the garlic and thyme, then cook for another minute.
- In a large bowl, stir together the ricotta, eggs, 3/4 cup parmesan, 1 cup mozzarella, oregano, the mushroom mixture, 2 teaspoons of salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
- Grease a 9x13 inch casserole dish using olive oil or cooking spray. Spread 1/2 cup marinara on the bottom. Top with 4-5 slices of eggplant (depending on how large the slices are). You can optionally overlap them slightly. Top with half the mushroom cheese filling, spreading evenly. Top with 1/2 cup marinara, a layer of eggplant, the remaining mushroom cheese filling, a layer of eggplant, and 1 cup marinara. Sprinkle the remaining parmesan and mozzarella evenly over the top. Bake until golden brown for 40 minutes. Allow to set for 20 before slicing.
You can make the marinara from scratch if you have a recipe you love (this tomato sauce recipe would also work). However, I prefer to save time since the eggplant needs to be roasted and the mushrooms need to be sautéed. I’m a fan of Rao’s Homemade.
I used a 9x13 casserole dish, which is slightly deeper than most 9x13 baking dishes (they type you would use for brownies).
You need approximately 12-15 slices of eggplant total. Keep in mind that the eggplant will shrink as it roasts. Thicker slices mean a more textured lasagna. If you slice thinner than 3/4 inches, the roasting time will decrease, so keep an eye on them. You don’t have to salt the eggplant before roasting. It will not impact the flavor or texture. However, you can choose to salt it beforehand to extract some of the water, which might seep out a bit on subsequent reheats. See my post notes for instructions on how to salt the eggplant.
Adapted from Food Network
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About the Author
Jennifer graduated from the Culinary Arts program at L’Academie de Cuisine in Maryland, and has worked professionally as a line cook, pastry chef, and cooking instructor. Her cookbook, The Gourmet Kitchen, was published in 2016 by Simon & Schuster.