When Chareva and I were first engaged, she warned me not to marry her for her cooking abilities. At the time, it was a fair warning – not that I cared. Considering that it took me 25 years of dating to find someone I wanted to marry, a lack of enthusiasm for cooking wasn’t exactly a deal-breaker for me.
That was then, this is now. She’s become an excellent cook over the years, despite the restriction of preparing meals without sugars and grains. Here’s one of my recent favorites from Chareva’s Kitchen:
1 lb. ground beef
1 lb. pork sausage
1 large eggplant
12 oz. ricotta cheese
1/2 cup plus 1 cup parmesan cheese
1 16 oz. bag shredded mozzarella cheese
1 Tbs. Italian seasoning
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1 Tbs. parsley
1 6 oz can of tomato sauce (canned tomato sauces tend not to have added sugar).
salt and pepper to taste
Cut the eggplant into 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick slices. If you have the prep time, you can coat the eggplant slices with salt and let them sit for an hour to extract any bitter juices, then rinse clean and squeeze dry with paper towels. If not, skipping this step doesn’t seem to affect the final taste much at all.
Rub both sides of the eggplant slices with olive oil. Place on cookie sheet and bake for about an hour in a 325-350 degree oven.
While the eggplant is baking, brown the ground beef and sausage together in a pan. Pour off the extra grease – nothing wrong with eating fat, mind you, but you don’t want the lasagna to be runny.
Make the white sauce: In a medium bowl mix together 12 oz ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup Parmesan, 2 eggs, Italian seasoning, onion powder, garlic powder, and parsley.
Remove the eggplant from the oven once it has browned on both sides. (You may need to turn the slices halfway through baking).
Build the lasagna layers: Pour a little olive oil in a casserole dish and spread it around. Then create a layer of eggplant slices, browned meat, white sauce, tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. Repeat. You can probably create two or three layers, depending on the size of your casserole dish. (The dish in the picture below is 8 in. x 8 in. There were enough leftover ingredients to make a second batch in a smaller dish. Tom ate that second batch himself.)
Bake the lasagna for about an hour at 350 degrees. It’s ready when the top layer of cheese begins to brown. Let it cool for 15-20 minutes so it becomes firm before serving. Makes great leftovers and a very convenient packed lunch for the kids and hubby the next day.
(It’s also awesome cold – Tom)