One of Jason’s favorite meals is pasta with marinara sauce. He would eat it three time a week if I would make it. Until a few months ago I gratified that desire at least once a week, until finally one day my stomach revolted. Not one more bit of pasta would it let through my lips! Since then J. has been feeling mad marinara depravation, and I’ve been trying, albeit reluctantly, to find an alternative that could keep us both happy. Well, I may not have found the ultimate answer, but I’ve definitely got a possible solution. Last night, while Jason got lost in pasta and sauce, I experimented with nightshades and fungus, greens and citrus, and nuts, seemingly a true witch’s brew. This was the end result.
I was originally photographing this just to share with my mother. Can I take a moment to brag on her? My mom has in the last few months completely changed her diet, started exercising, and is focused on being the healthiest version of herself possible. She has lost thirty pounds and seems happier than I’ve seen her in years! In this process, which started with her finding a program called “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead” and identifying with the message, she has become a vegetarian. So occasionally we swap recipes we think the other might find interesting, and I try to think up nutritionally well rounded meals that she might enjoy. Unless you are really on you game about eating a diverse diet with special attention to proteins and iron and vitamins D and the Bs, being a vegetarian can become a slippery health slope. . .as can any eating, naturally. . .anyway, back to the recipe. This “lasagna” has roasted nuts and goat cheese for protein, antioxidants from eggplant and a little heart healthy fat from olive oil, not to mention vitamin (and protein) packed arugula! As a dark, leafy green arugula is also a decent source of iron and folates.
I know I titled these “Individual” lasagnas, but unless you are really hungry this is more of a two serving affair. The richness of the olive oil and goat cheese make this hard to eat in bulk, but great to divide and pair with a bright salad.
1 28 oz can (or 2lb peeled fresh) whole tomatoes, seeded and crushed
4-5 cloves garlic, sliced
red pepper flakes
fresh basil, chiffonade (or just torn)
Remove seeds from tomatoes, straining and retaining all juices. Pour 1 TBS. olive oil and sliced garlic in cold sauté pan and heat over medium until garlic becomes fragrant–do not brown. Add crushed tomatoes and juice to pan, along with 1/4-1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, and 1/4 tsp. salt. Continue to cook until no longer watery. Add juice of 1/4 lemon. Taste for salt (you can always add more, but you can’t take it out!). Stir in fresh basil and either remove from heat or lower heat.
2-3 Tbs Marinara sauce
1 eggplant (I used a beautiful streaked Japanese ep that looked really good a the market)
1 portobello cap, stalk removed, gills scraped out
1/2 cup arugula or leafy green of choice
2 Tbs goat cheese
1/3 cup walnuts, toasted
1 clove garlic
Cut eggplant into 1/4 inch slices. Lay flat on towel and sprinkle lightly with kosher salt (or sea salt). Cover with another towel and press.
Preheat oven to 400. Line baking pan with parchment paper. Add nuts and toast in oven until lightly colored, about 5-7 minutes. In food processor combine garlic, juice of quarter lemon (zest too if you so desire), 1 tsp olive oil, goat cheese, arugula, and toasted walnuts. Process until paste forms. Taste, and salt only if necessary (remember, the other parts of the meal have salt as well!)
In sauté pan, heat 2 tsp olive oil until a drop of water flicked into the pan sizzles. Add eggplant slices, sprinkle with freshly ground pepper, and cook until browned on both sides. Remove to towel covered plate.
Portobello cap, bottom up, place in baking pan on parchment paper. Spread a thin layer of goat cheese pesto. Add layer of eggplant, another layer of pesto. Eggplant, pesto, 2-3 Tbs marinara sauce. Bake in oven for approximately 8 minutes. Plate and serve.