EGGPLANT BEEF BAKED LASAGNA ROLLS

I will admit it right here that I am addicted to the traditional cheesy and saucy lasagna, but I do love to think of different ways to change up an old favourite. I was thinking eggplant is used quite a bit in Italian cooking with recipes like eggplant Parmigiana, so I decided to mimic that technique by instead rolling up meatball flavoured ground beef into the sliced eggplant. Cover it in sauce and cheese, bake and presto I had a moist melt in your mouth alternative to regular lasagna. Even my husband, who is not a fan of eggplant, really enjoyed this meal. The bitterness of the eggplant disappears into the sauce. If you didn't like beef you could always change it up for ground turkey or chicken. Seeing that there are no carbs in this meal you could serve it up with a nice warm garlic bread on the side. Delicious!

Serves 6-8

Preheat the oven to 375 Degrees F. (for the first 30 minutes)
Turn the oven temp up to 425 Degrees F. (for the last 20-25 minutes)

Ingredients:

  • 2 large eggplant, sliced 1/4" thick (you may not need all of it)
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 tbsp ketchup
  • 2 tsp yellow mustard
  • 1/2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup dry Italian breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup onion, minced finely
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 tsp each: chili powder, dried thyme
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • handful of chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 big jar of marinara sauce (homemade or your favourite)
  • fresh basil leaves, shredded
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1-1/2 cups of Mozzarella cheese, grated (use more if you like)

1. Cut the eggplant into 1/4" slices and fry them in a large non-stick skillet with a little olive oil for about 2 minutes per side or until it becomes easily pliable. Make sure to season with a little salt and pepper. Place them on a plate to cool slightly.

2. In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, ketchup, mustard, worcestershire sauce, Italian breadcrumbs, minced onions, egg, salt, pepper, chili powder, dried thyme, Parmesan cheese, and the chopped fresh parsley. Don't over mix.

3. Preheat the oven to 375 F and pour a bit of tomato sauce on the bottom of the casserole dish. Start to roll the eggplant slices with the ground beef mixture. Spoon some of the beef mixture onto each eggplant slice and roll it up, placing the seam side down. (see picture below)

4. Pour more tomato sauce on top to cover the rolled up eggplants. Then sprinkle over top the shredded fresh basil, the Parmesan cheese and the mozzarella cheese. If you like it a bit spicy sprinkle 1/2 tsp of chili flakes on top of that. Bake it in a 375 F oven, covered in foil, for 30 minutes, then uncovered at 425 F for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 5-7 minutes then serve.

Cook's tip: if you want to ensure that the bitter taste of the eggplant is not there, before frying it in a pan, place the sliced eggplant in a colander and lightly salt them. Leave the eggplant in the colander for a good 30 minutes so some of the bitter water comes out.


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