Eggplant is a spongy type of vegetable; when fried in oil, it will absorb a good deal of the oil. However, I didn't want my lasagna to be a soppy, oily mess and made the decision to oven fry the eggplant slices. If it works for potatoes, why not eggplant, right? By the way, to make it a bit more interesting, I sautéed green bell peppers and grape tomatoes (look like miniature Roma tomatoes) together and made that one of the layers. In my opinion, this addition made the entire dish come together into a delicious perfection; but then again, I'm biased.
1 large eggplant1 cup Italian flavored bread crumbs
½ cup milk
1 small green bell pepper
1 pint grape tomatoes
1 Tbsp. olive oil
½ tsp salt
½ tsp garlic powder
1 (32 oz.) container part-skim ricotta cheese
1 (8 oz.) package finely shredded mozzarella cheese; divided in half
3 cups homemade pasta sauce
Preheat oven to 350F; spray baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray, and a 2 and ½ quart baking dish.
While eggplant is baking; take seeds out of the bell pepper, cut into strips and then dice; cut the tomatoes into halves. In a 10 inch skillet, heat olive oil on medium-high; add in the bell pepper, tomatoes, salt and garlic powder. Sauté for 5 minutes, remove from heat.
In a medium bowl, combine ricotta and 4 ounces of shredded mozzarella; if using whole milk ricotta, add one egg when mixing to achieve smoothness.
In the sprayed baking dish, spread one cup of sauce on the bottom; place 3 slices of eggplant on bottom. Spread half the cheese mixture over the eggplant; spread half the vegetable mixture over the cheese. Repeat process: one cup sauce, 3 eggplant, half cheese, half vegetables, one cup sauce and remaining eggplant slices. Top the entire casserole with the other half of the shredded mozzarella; bake for 30-35 minutes (cheese is melted and sauce is bubbling up). Remove from oven; let sit for 15 minutes before serving.
Makes six servings.