While browsing the internet in search of whatever it was we were looking for, we stumbled across this day, November 8th, known as Cook Something Bold Day. The purpose? Cook something Bold. Something Pungent. Something memorable. Since we’re already in the business of mixing up something “Bold” on a daily basis, we thought we would go culinary in honor of this day. So we’ve tapped into the mind of our father, Lark Isely, to extract a recipe that has quickly become a family favorite (even to the pickiest grandchild) since its conception at the end of this past summer. In Dad’s own words, and for your practical enjoyment, we give you:
The birth of an eggplant lasagna recipe - this is how it happened. We planted a garden this year that included eggplants. I'm not sure how most people think of eggplants, but for myself it's the idea of them that I fancy. Eggplant Parmesan is ok, but I'm not a big fan of it. What else do people do with the fruit? Well, I've had a vegetarian lasagna that used some and I liked the flavor it added to the mix. I didn't want my eggplants in the garden to go to waste, so I got to thinking, what if I could make a vegetarian lasagna that used it in place of the noodles typically used in that dish? I thought it would make a better for you version of a delicious meal, so I decided to experiment.
I realized I had another hearty, versatile veggie hanging out in the garden in the form of zucchini and I chose to add it to the eggplant “noodles”. I sliced them into 1/8 in rounds and pan fried the pieces in oil. I used coconut oil because I like it and it works pretty good, but you can use any oil of your preference just as well. As I pan fried it I sprinkled shredded pieces of Thai basil on it. So first goes a layer of eggplant, then a layer of zucchini, sprinkling Thai basil on each layer and covering the entire surface of the cooking dish, in this case a 9x13 Pyrex baking dish.
Backing up a little, I had started a pot of smashed up heirloom tomatoes simmering to make my sauce. It had a sufficient amount of garlic and Thai basil to flavor it nicely. After each layer of eggplant and zucchini I spread a generous helping of my homemade tomato sauce and covered it with a solid layer of cheeses. I like an Italian mix and some extra mozzarella. In an extra bold move, that I neglected to mention earlier, I placed green leaves of kale (but you could use another suitable leafy green) around the perimeter of the dish before I began layering. This was my strategy to keep it all contained and avoid cheese running over the sides. It adds a nice touch overall I must say.
· 3-4 whole eggplant, medium size
· 3-4 zucchini
· 3-5 large heirloom or regular tomatoes
· 3 1 oz packets fresh basil (Thai basil is my favorite, any type of basil will work)
· 1-2 bulbs garlic
· 2 6 oz packets Italian Blend Cheese
· 1.5 6 oz packets Mozzarella Cheese
1. Dice up tomatoes, put in sauce pan on medium heat (pre made tomato sauce can be used instead)
Note: Add basil and garlic to taste, simmer tomatoes on med-high heat while completing rest of prep
2. Cut eggplants and zucchinis into thin rounds (approximately 1/8”)
3. Finely chop basil
4. Peel garlic
1. Pre heat oven to 375 and grease a cookie sheet with coconut oil, olive oil or butter
2. Place eggplant and zucchini rounds on two well greased cookie sheets and cook for approximately 10 minutes or until soft.
Note: softening the eggplant and zucchini up ahead of time adds a very nice flavor to the lasagna and makes the end cook time shorter. This step can be avoided, in which case follow steps 3-5 but cook lasagna for approximately 55 minutes or until cheese is melted and eggplant and zucchini are cooked to preference.
3. In a 9x13 pan greased in coconut oil, layer eggplant, zucchini, basil, minced garlic, tomato sauce, cheese.
a. Repeat for 3 layers
4. Preheat oven to 400
5. Cook for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is melted and lasagna is warm throughout
Note: if following only steps 3-5, cook for 55-60 minutes or until cheese is melted and eggplant and zucchini are cooked to preference.
And in the end... this is what you should get!
Now, dad has left the blog again to go find out what else the garden has in store, and we’re here to say - we hope you have fun with his bold spin on converting lasagna from guilty pleasure to nutritious mealtime treasure. In any case, we hope you have a very palatable Cook Something Bold Day, and we can’t wait till we get to savor the benefits of sending dad on his next culinary adventure.