Just fair warning, this recipe will take some time to assemble. But it is VERY worth it. While it might not be a quick weeknight meal, you can make it ahead of time and just pop it in the oven when you’re ready to eat. It’s got a lot of flavor and a great way to get in some healthy vegetables.
For the “noodles”
- 2 medium eggplants, washed and sliced lengthwise
For the tomato sauce
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 tsp oregano
- 2 tsp basil
- 1 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
- 1 can fire roasted tomatoes
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 1 8 oz can of tomato sauce
- vegetable broth
- salt and pepper to taste
For the ricotta “cheese”
- 1 cup white beans, soaked and rinsed (or one can, drained and rinsed)
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp rice vinegar
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
1. Slice the eggplant lengthwise into thin noodle-like slices. Lay out onto a paper towel, sprinkle with salt and cover with another paper towel. Let rest for 15 minutes. If you’re cooking your own beans, cover with water bring to a boil, and then cover and lower to a simmer. Cook for about 20 minutes or until the beans are soft.
2. Preheat oven to 350, brush the salt off the eggplant and lay them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove and let cool.
3. In a medium saucepan, saute the onion until soft. Add in the garlic, oregano, basil, and fennel seeds. Stir to combine then add in both cans of tomatoes and tomato sauce. If you want a thinner sauce, add in the vegetable broth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bring the sauce to a boil then lower to a simmer for 15 minutes.
4. While the sauce is simmering, place the cooked white beans into a food processor or blender and pulse a few times. Add in the rest of the cheese ingredients and blend until smooth.
5. Now it’s time to put everything together. In a 9 x 13 casserole dish place a thin layer of the tomato sauce, then a layer of eggplant noodles, then a layer of cheese, and then a layer of tomato sauce. Keep layering until you run out of ingredients. Cover with foil and bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Let it rest uncovered for 5 minutes, then cut and serve!
Whew! I know it seems like this is a lot of work, but it is really worth it. Make this over the weekend when you have a little more time and then have delicious leftovers for lunch during the week. To save more time you can use jarred marinara sauce, just make sure to read the ingredient list. Or make a few batches of these, put them in the freezer and then pull them out when you need a quick meal. Enjoy!