I attempted to make eggplant lasagna, substituting the lasagna sheets with eggplant slices, however, I found the preparation and cooking time involved was more than I could stand. Additionally, it was a bit watery. Instead I made these Eggplant, lentil and pea ricotta stacks. The preparation and cooking time was reduced, as was the washing up, they were easier to serve and they looked kind of fancy.
Served with a decent side salad, 1 – 2 of these stacks makes for a satisfying, nutritious whole food meal. The lentils are filling and provide fibre and some carbohydrates, there is some protein provided by the peas and ricotta cheese and an array of vitamins and minerals from the eggplant and other vegetables. I used my Creamy mustard dressing on the side salad. This meal was very reasonably priced too. The total cost to make these stacks was $8.25*.
Eggplant, lentil and pea ricotta stack
Makes 2 – 3 serves depending on how much you feel like eating
1 eggplant cut into about 1cm thick slices
1 vegetable stock cube
1 clove garlic, minced
½ a brown onion, diced
½ tablespoon of dried basil
¼ teaspoon of sage
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 400 gram tin of crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 400 gram tin of lentils, drained and rinsed
½ cup frozen peas, thawed (the easiest way thaw peas quickly to run some hot water over them while in a strainer)
200 grams low fat ricotta cheese
1 clove garlic
Pinch of nutmeg
Non-stick fry pan
- Place the eggplant slices into a colander and sprinkle the slices generously with salt. Allow the eggplant to ‘sweat’ (draw out excess moisture) for at least 30 minutes. To save time I quickly do this in the morning before work then sit the colander with the eggplant slices over a plate in the fridge for the day.
- To prepare the lentils, crumble the vegetable stock cube into a non-stick saucepan along with ¼ cup of water. Add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion becomes transparent.
- Turn the heat down to low and add the remaining ingredients to the saucepan. Lightly simmer, periodically stirring, while you prepare the eggplant.
- Rinse the salt off the eggplant slices and pat the slices dry with a paper towel. Cook the eggplant slices in a non-stick fry pan until they are golden brown on both sides (see Note below regarding why I do not use oil in cooking).
- To prepare the pea ricotta, place the ricotta cheese, peas, garlic, salt, pepper and nutmeg into a food processor. Process until the mixture is fairly smooth – some lumpiness will remain.
- Place a slice of eggplant onto a baking tray lined with baking paper. Place a thin layer of the lentil mixture over the top and spread it out evenly with the back of a spoon. Place a thin layer of the pea ricotta over the top and spread it out evenly with the back of a spoon. Place another slice of eggplant that is of a similar size to the bottom piece on top of the pea ricotta and repeat the process.
- Bake the eggplant stacks for 30 minutes at 180°C. Carefully place them onto a plate using a spatula.
Note: Since the age of 18 (I am now 31) I have avoided using oil in my cooking. I believe this is one factor that has allowed me to maintain a healthy weight range. Now that I am older and more educated about my health, I do eat fats, but typically in the form of whole food, such as coconut, nuts and seeds. I still avoid using oil in my cooking and have found that oil often masks the real flavour of vegetables and adds unnecessary calories. I have developed a number of tactics to cook without oil that you will notice if you follow this blog.
*Total cost based on all groceries purchased from Aldi.