Last year the boyfriend and I started doing Meat Free Monday. Considering he is a butcher by trade, it wasn’t a huge hit with him. He… Tolerated it. Didn’t love it though. So we stopped it for a while, but now that Spring is here and the weather is warming up, I want to bring back the light and refreshing meat free meals. And I’m determined to make it a hit. Not just tolerable, but something he looks forward to. It might take some work (make that a LOT of work), but I’ve never been one to turn down a challenge!
This is actually a recipe I created when I still had my old blog, so to any old followers of mine, you may have seen this before. It’s been a little re-worked, but not by much though as it was pretty ace already.
It’s basically made up of two sauces – a tomato and veg sauce and a ricotta and spinach sauce, layered between eggplant slices and topped with crispy asparagus strips. It’s the bomb-diggity. (Does anyone even use that term anymore?)
This recipe uses half a kilo of ricotta, so you don’t want some run of the mill grocery store branded ricotta. Do yourself a favour and head to your local deli/green grocer and grab yourself fresh ricotta packaged in a strainer. Oh so creamy, and oh so good. You won’t ever look back. Plus it’s pretty cheap. I got a kilo for $7.99 and it was worth every cent! I stirred through the usual baby spinach leaves, but also added chilli and lime from my mumma’s garden. It honestly just takes it to a whole new level. You thought you liked spinach and ricotta before? Add chilli and lime and you’ll never want it any other way again.
As awesome as both the sauces are though, my favourite part of the whole dish is the crispy asparagus. The trick is brushing on some olive oil before baking, this helps to get them that almost chargrilled look and taste.The boyfriend gave this one the thumbs up, but I’m still unsure as to whether that was out of love for me or love for the dish. To be honest, I’m hoping it’s a bit of both!
If you give this recipe a try, please let me know how it was. Any unbiased feedback is always welcome here!
- 2 large eggplants, thinly sliced lengthways
- 1 teaspoon of sea salt
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 carrots, grated
- 2 zucchinis, grated
- 1x 700g jar of passata
- 1x 400g tin of diced Italian tomatoes
- 10-15 basil leaves
- Salt and pepper to season
- 500g ricotta cheese
- 100g baby spinach leaves, roughly chopped
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1-2 chillies, sliced
- 2 bunches of asparagus, ends removed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Lay your eggplant slices on a tray and sprinkle over with salt. Leave for 30mins, or while you prepare the other parts of the recipe.
- Heat a teaspoon of olive oil in a pan and sauté the onion and garlic for 1-mins until softened and fragrant.
- Add carrots and zucchini and continue cooking for 2-3mins until softened.
- Place passata, diced tomatoes and basil leaves in pan and mix well to combine.
- Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to a gentle simmer and leave covered for 15mins.
- Prepare your spinach and ricotta sauce by combining spinach, ricotta, lime juice and chilli in a bowl and mixing well.
- Once tomato and veg sauce has cooked, rinse the eggplant slices under water and pat dry with a paper towel.
- Pre heat the oven to 180 degrees celsius.
- Spread about 1/4 cup tomato and veg sauce onto the bottom of a lasagna dish.
- Arrange 1/3 of your eggplant slices on top of this.
- Spread half of the tomato and veg sauce on top of the eggplant.
- Repeat last 2 steps.
- Arrange last layer of eggplant.
- Spread ricotta and spinach sauce onto the last layer of eggplant.
- Line the asparagus spears on top of the ricotta and spinach sauce.
- Brush a tablespoon of olive oil on the asparagus spears.
- Bake in the oven for 25mins, or until tomato and veg sauce is bubbling and the asparagus is golden brown and crispy.