Eggplants make delicious lasagna, but traditional methods usually involve slicing and frying them in copious quantities of oil. Here, eggplant is diced and simmered with flavourful ingredients to make a rich, zesty herbed sauce.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the fennel and bay leaf, and cook for a few seconds, pressing the bay leaf with the back of a spoon to bring out its aroma. Add the onion, garlic, celery, carrot, mushrooms, marjoram and sage. Cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes until the vegetables soften slightly.
Stir in the eggplant and lemon rind, mixing well. Continue to cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Pour in the tomatoes with their juice and add pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer the herbed eggplant mixture for 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC).
While the sauce is simmering, cook the lasagna in boiling water for 3–5 minutes, or according to the package instructions, until al dente. Drain well and lay out the pieces on a clean dish towel, in a single layer, to dry.
Purée the cottage cheese with the flour and egg in a food processor or blender until smooth. Add the milk and process again briefly. Season to taste with nutmeg and pepper.
Pour half the eggplant mixture into a large rectangular or square ovenproof dish. Discard the bay leaf. Cover with half the lasagna, then add the remaining eggplant mixture and top with the rest of the lasagna, overlapping the pieces neatly.
Pour the cottage cheese mixture over the lasagna to cover it completely. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese evenly over the top. Bake the lasagna for about 45 minutes or until the topping is set and deep golden.
Leave the herbed eggplant lasagna to stand for 10 minutes before serving. This allows time for the pasta and sauce to cool and set slightly.
566 calories 39 g protein 16 g total fat 4 g saturated fat 73 mg cholesterol 68 g total carbohydrate 23 g sugars 15 g fibre 296 mg sodium
*Eggplants do not have a strong flavour, but absorb other flavours in a dish well. They add “bulk” for very few calories. Puréed cottage cheese makes a creamy base for a delicious low-fat lasagna topping.