Eggplants were on sale at Harris Teeter and they looked so beautiful that I had to get some. I didn't really know what I wanted to make, but I knew I wanted those eggplants. Anyway, the week got away from me and I didn't use them and they were just sitting in my fridge, staring smugly up at me as a reminder that I am terrible at following through on things. When Saturday came around I knew that I had to do something really great with those smug eggplants. I'll show them. I find eggplant lasagna to be pretty bland and heavy, but I thought making it spicy with three different kinds of heat would cut through the heaviness and give this dish exactly what it needed. I bake the eggplant slices because it is so much easier than frying them up in batches. It is obviously a lot healthier, but really the whole point is to add texture to the eggplant with some crunch. Baking does this just as well as frying and you aren't loosing a thing. The red pepper flakes, sriracha, and hot sauce combine to provide a spice that is manageable, but it really does pack a punch.
Spicy Eggplant Lasagna
1/2 cup corn flour
1/4 cup milk
1 Tbs. hot sauce
8 oz. ricotta cheese
16 oz. cottage cheese
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 Tbs. fresh chives (1 tsp. dried)
1 (28 oz.) can whole tomatoes
2 Tbs. sriracha
salt and pepper
1. Slice the eggplant into fairly thick (1/2 inch) pieces.
2. Set up an assembly line by mixing flour, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper in one shallow bowl and mixing 1 egg, milk, and hot sauce in another bowl. Dip the eggplant pieces into the liquid and then into the flour to coat.
3. Place the eggplant pieces onto a large baking sheet that has been sprayed with non-stick spray.
4. Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 20 minutes on one side. Remove from the oven and flip the eggplants onto the other side. Sprinkle lightly with olive oil and return to the oven.
5. Continue to bake for another 15-20 minutes until nicely browned. Remove them from the oven and set aside until you are ready to assemble the lasagna.
6. While the eggplants are browning, you can make the sauce and the cheese mixture. The cheese mixture is made by combining ricotta and 1 egg until smooth.
7. Add the cottage cheese, red pepper flakes, a sprinkle of salt and pepper and the chives. Stir until well combined.
8. The sauce is made by blending the entire contents of the can of whole tomatoes in a blender with the sriracha.
9. Scoop about 1/4 cup of sauce into the bottom of your pan and spread it around to lightly coat the bottom. I used a square 9x9 inch pan (thanks Lauren) for this lasagna. If you want to make a larger one, you can add another eggplant to the mix and use a bigger pan.
10. Assemble eggplant slices on the bottom so that they are in one even layer.
11. Top the eggplant slices with 1/2 ricotta cheese.
12. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and a grating of Parmesan.
13. Top this layer with a layer of sauce. Then repeat with eggplant slices.
A layer of ricotta, then more mozzarella and Parmesan cheese, then the last layer of sauce. I like to top the whole thing off with a few dollops of ricotta and a final shaving of Parmesan cheese.
At this point, you can put it in the refrigerator or freezer until you are ready to bake. I assembled the day before and left it in the fridge overnight. I baked it the next day and it was perfect.
14. Spray a piece of foil and cover the lasagna with foil. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 1 hour. Uncover and return to the oven to bake for another 30 minutes to brown the cheese on top. Allow to cool for 5 minutes so that the lasagna doesn't fall apart when you cut it.
Slice up and enjoy. This also heats up very well so it makes great leftovers.