Matzo Lasagna with Eggplant
The other day, I mentioned that despite being frustrated by the arbitrariness of Passover dietary restrictions, I appreciate the cleverness that they inspire.
One of my favorite such hacks from my childhood was matzo lasagna. Strangely, it works really well, tending to be both softer and lighter than regular lasagna (matzo being far less dense than lasagna noodles). The problem with this is that I tend to eat more of it in a sitting than I would regular lasagna. My solution? Eggplant.
Lasagna generally takes a bit of time to assemble. I didn't have hours to spend, so I did the quick and dirty version:
- Sautee some onions. Many of my meals start this way.
- Make the sauce. I made a creamy tomato and milk based thing with a good bit of parmesan. I tossed in some sauteed onions and garlic and a can of tomatoes (but not the liquid from the can). A blender was involved. If I'd thought of it, I'd have added some frozen spinach. I forgot too, though.
- Slice the eggplant. I used a medium sized one. I probably should have used a bit less than I did. I sliced it fairly thinly. Eggplant, by the way, can be a pain to slice thinly when the skin is particularly rubbery (and you need to sharpen your knives). I solved this problem by slicing off a thin strip of the eggplant's skin lengthwise and using the exposed flesh to give my knife a bit of traction.
- Dump the tomato liquid in a large, flat container (like a lasagna pan, but not the one you plan on using. Toss the eggplant slices in this. Add some herbs if you want.
- Start shooing the cats away as they become intensely interested in everything you're doing.
- Preheat oven to 375°F or so.
- Begin assembly. Add some sauce to the bottom of lasagna pan. Spread some ricotta on a piece of matzo. Set the matzo in the tomato liquid until the underside is damp. Place in lasagna pan. Repeat with another piece of matzo. Top with a layer of sliced eggplant and some more sauce. Repeat.
- You could add herbs or egg or whatever to your ricotta. I was in a hurry.
- Most matzo lasagna recipes will tell you to run the matzo under warm water. This is dumb - and even less necessary than boiling your lasagna noodles. You make it impossible to actually spread the ricotta, and - as long as the matzo (or noodle) is in touch with sufficient liquid (i.e., sauce and undrained ricotta) - it is going to get boiled when you bake it.
- The cats will become more interested when you open the ricotta. Beware.
- Top with some mozzarella or other cheese and the rest of the sauce. Add some herbs if you want.
- Bake for about 45 minutes. You probably want to cover it with aluminum foil for most of that time.
It took me about a half hour from when I started to get this into the oven. My biggest concern was that the eggplant wouldn't cook sufficiently. (This is why I upped the temperature by 25° over most similar recipes.) If I'd had more time I would have par-roasted them to be sure. The eggplant cooked up fine, though. I shouldn't have worried.