Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Eggplant Parmesan Lasagna with Fresh Mozzarella

By itself, Eggplant Parmesan is a flavorful, inviting dish that gives mild, spongy eggplant a cheesy, slightly crisp bite, and depth with a rich tomato sauce. It’s that same great flavor that makes the dish a tasty filling for lasagna—instead of cooked slices or chunks of plain eggplant. Fresh mozzarella adds creaminess and a little hint of sweetness.

The key to this recipe is not to overdo the amount of any one item. One eggplant is all you need, and the layers should be thin, not stacked high with ingredients. This includes the easy crushed-tomato sauce—a light spread for each layer does the job.

Makes 4 large servings or 6 small.


For the Sauce
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1-1/2 cups crushed tomatoes (from a 28-oz can)
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
For the Lasagna
  • 1 medium eggplant (about 1 lb), cut crosswise into 24 thin slices
  • sea salt
  • 12 lasagna noodles
  • 2 cups finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, divided
  • 1 cup panko (or other fine, dry breadcrumbs)
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 2 large eggs, whisked
  • 3 tbsp peanut oil, divided, plus more as needed
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella (2 large balls), thinly sliced
Eggplant Slices 
Parmigiano-Reggiano and Mozzarella

For the Sauce
  1. Heat a saucepan over medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the garlic and shallot and cook, stirring frequently, 3 minutes.
  2. Add the crushed tomatoes and parsley and season with salt and pepper. Bring the sauce to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook slowly 20 minutes. Remove from the heat. 
Crushed Tomato Sauce
For the Lasagna
  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  2. Place the eggplant slices on layers of paper towels and sprinkle with salt. Cover with more paper towels and let stand 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, cook the noodles in boiling, salted water until al dente, 8-9 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. 
  4. Stir together 1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano and the panko in a large baking dish. Place the flour in a heavy, sealable plastic bag.
  5. Wipe any excess salt from the eggplant slices and drop into the bag with the flour. Shake well to coat the eggplant.
  6. Working with one slice at a time, dip each lightly into the egg and let excess drip off. Press into the cheese-panko mixture, coating both sides. Place the coated slices on a plate and repeat with the remaining eggplant.
Eggplant Ready to Fry
  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-heat and add 3 tablespoons of peanut oil. Working in batches, fry the eggplant slices until golden and slightly crispy on the outside, about 3 minutes per side. (Season the slices with black pepper as they cook.)
Eggplant Beginning to Fry
Fried Eggplant Parmesan
  1. Spread a thin layer of the cooked tomato sauce in the bottom of a 13 X 9-inch baking dish (about 3 tablespoons). Lay 3 lasagna noodles on top of the sauce.
  2. Lay 12 eggplant slices on top of the noodles, trying not to overlap (gaps are okay). Scatter 1/2 the mozzarella slices on top of the eggplant.
Bottom Layer of Sauce 
Eggplant and Mozzarella Layer
  1. Lay 3 more noodles in the dish and spread with 1/2 the remaining tomato sauce. Repeat the eggplant and mozzarella layer.
  2. Lay the remaining 3 noodles on top and spread with the remaining sauce. Top with the remaining 1 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano and sprinkle with dried oregano.
2nd Layer of Noodles and Sauce
Lasagna Ready to Bake
  1. Bake, uncovered, until bubbly and the cheese is browned in places, about 30 minutes. Remove and let rest 10 minutes before cutting.
Lasagna Ready to Bake
Divide the lasagna among 4 to 6 plates and serve right away.

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