Scruffy Eggplant Lasagna (Thank you, Jamie Oliver!)

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Beautiful eggplant image from Amber Engle, Unsplash

Can I just say that I’ve totally fallen for Jamie Oliver, his son Buddy and their “Keep Cooking and Carry On” videos made at home?

In particular, this recipe is genius.  I love lasagna but it can feel very laborious: start with a layer of this, then a layer of that, then repeat and try to keep them neat.

His “scruffy” version is so much easier! Here is a link to the original recipe:

https://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/pasta-recipes/scruffy-aubergine-lasagne/.

I  am including the link, because he has lots of great substitution ideas. (Don’t have this? Try that!)  But since many Americans aren’t used to cooking by weight, I’m also sharing the recipe as I made it, using ingredients from my pantry.  It makes quite a large batch and you may want to halve it for a smaller group. (Or make the whole batch and know that tomorrow’s lunch will be spectacular, too.)

Ingredients:

1 cup water
2 large eggplants, stem removed  and quartered, then cut into 1″ pieces
3 yellow onions, cut into quarters and then cut in half
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp rubbed dry sage
1 tsp dry red pepper flakes (use less if you’re leery of the heat)
zest of one lemon
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 can water
10 lasagna strips, cooked, cooled and cut into 4-5″
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 cups grated sharp cheddar
1 1/2 cups grated romano or parmesan cheese
1/4 cup ground almonds (Optional – Jamie uses, but I didn’t have and didn’t miss it.)

Cook lasagna for about 8 minutes to al dente, in boiling, well-salted water. Drain and set aside to cool.

In a large, ovenproof skillet bring 1 cup water to the boil.  Add eggplants and onions, cover and simmer for 20 minutes until both are starting to soften.  Uncover and continue cooking until most of the moisture has cooked away.  (It won’t run into the middle when you try to make a well, but will still have some moisture.)

Make a hole/well in the middle of the pan, and add the olive oil.  Let it heat for a few moments, and then add the garlic powder, dry sage, and red pepper flakes.  Stir the spices in the oil and let them cook for half a minute or so, stirring constantly.  Add the lemon zest and stir for another few moments, until the lemon zest takes on a golden color.

Quickly add the two cans of tomatoes and can of water. Stir to combine and simmer on medium/low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. The liquid will reduce some, but there will still be quite a bit. That’s okay.

Remove from the heat and dd the cooked lasagna pieces, poking them under so they’re completely covered with the sauce.  Save a few for the top of the lasagna, but make sure they’re coated with sauce, too.   Top with cheeses, and sprinkle on the ground almonds if you are using.

Bake in a 400 degree oven for 25 minutes.  Devour.

Bok Choy, Eggplant and Peppers with Oyster Sauce

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Beautiful Bok Choy Photo by Jodie Morgan on Unsplash

We love baby bok choy and chinese eggplant.  When I saw them looking all fresh and delicious at the Asian market, I couldn’t resist.  I grabbed a beautiful red pepper, too and it made for a quick and easy supper.   The recipe is from foodandwine.com with a few tweaks of my own.

1 to 1 1/2 lbs. baby bok choy, washed and patted dry
2 small Chinese eggplants* (about 1 ½” x 10″) halved and cut into ½” half circles
1 red bell pepper, stem and seeds removed, cut into 1″ squares
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 big tsp chopped garlic (or two cloves fresh minced)
3 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp soy sauce
2 tbsp sesame seeds

2 cups basmati or jasmine rice**
3 and 7/8 cup water
1 tsp salt

Rinse rice well and start cooking with water and salt on medium heat. Once it starts boiling, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 20 minutes.

In a large frying pan or wok, heat oil on medium/high heat. You can use peanut oil or canola, but I had Olive oil handy so I just used that. Add ginger and garlic and cook for a minute or so, stirring constantly.

Add bok choy and cook, moving it gently but constantly so the garlic and ginger don’t burn.  Cook for 2-3 minutes. Add eggplants and peppers and continue cooking and tossing for another minute.

Add oyster sauce, fish sauce and soy sauce and cook for another minute or so until everything is warmed through. If the bottom of the pan is starting to brown too much, add a couple of tablespoons of water, and scrape up the bottom.

Remove from heat, sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve over rice.

*You could probably substitute a small regular eggplant for the Chinese eggplants. Don’t think it would be the same without the Bok Choy. If you can only get regular bok choy, wash and pat it dry and then slice it into four quarters.

** Jasmine or another long grain rice would be great, but I always have basmati, so that’s what I used.