Try to tell me that August signals summer’s wind down. I’ll stick my fingers into my ears, squeeze my eyes shut tight, and cry “LA LA LA!!” at a volume loud enough to rival the most determined toddler. Here to remind us (in a more mature, healthy way I might add) that summer ain’t over yet: a recipe for Eggplant Lasagna!
This low carb lasagna recipe swaps the usual noodles for planks of thinly sliced, roasted eggplant. Eggplant is at its peak right now, so this is the ideal time to make this Eggplant Lasagna recipe!
In between the eggplant slices is a luscious, creamy mix of ricotta, spinach, Parmesan, and mushrooms. It’s a vegetarian lasagna that is hearty, filling, and comforting, just as any good lasagna recipe should be.
The comfort-factor will also be a plus for those of you who may not share my summer fervor and are eagerly awaiting the arrival of the f-word (ahem, FALL).
Like my Zucchini Lasagna, this Eggplant Lasagna makes excellent use of summer’s bounty, while carrying notes of the tuck-in type of cozy dinners that are soon (enough) to come.
My first experience using vegetables in place of noodles was in the creation of this Crock Pot Low Carb Lasagna. (If you’d like to make a crockpot eggplant lasagna, you can use that exact recipe, omitting the zucchini and using extra eggplant instead.)
Today’s delish Eggplant Lasagna recipe has similar healthy-veggie-meets-comforting-Italian-vibes but is quicker to make and roasts in your oven.
How to Make Baked Eggplant Lasagna (That’s as Tasty as Classic Lasagna)
The key to making Eggplant Lasagna as tasty (and satisfying as!) a lasagna you’d order in an Italian restaurant is to properly prepare the eggplant itself.
Since the eggplant slices stand in for the lasagna noodles (a serious job in the business of lasagna), it’s important that the eggplant both tastes great and has a fantastic texture.
In fact, if you’ve tried eggplant in the past and haven’t enjoyed it, my hunch is that the problem was with preparation.
Cooking eggplant well comes down to two main principles:
- SALT. Eggplant needs to be seasoned well. I like to sprinkle the eggplant with kosher salt, let it sit for several minutes, then use a paper towel to pat away any excess moisture. The salt softens the eggplant’s bitterness and draws out any excess moisture.
- High-Temperature Cooking (like roasting and/or grilling). Friends I know who don’t like eggplant complain that the eggplant is spongy or slimy. I agree with them, and I firmly believe eggplant should be neither. To give your eggplant fabulous texture for the lasagna, roast it in the oven first, prior to layering it into the lasagna.
Roasting the Eggplant for Lasagna Accomplishes Three Important Things:
- It gives the eggplant a tender (not gummy!) texture.
- It cooks out excess moisture so that the lasagna doesn’t turn out watery, and
- It concentrates and caramelizes the eggplant’s flavors.
Roasted eggplant is DELICIOUS. Like my favorite Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts, the heat of the oven truly transforms an otherwise ho-hum veggie into something marvelous.
Note: You do not need to peel eggplant prior to cooking it! We cook eggplant at least once a week in the summer, and I have yet to peel it once. Save yourself a step and leave the peel on.
The eggplant roasts at 400 degrees F for 20 to 25 minutes. While it cooks, prepare the sauce layer and delicious ricotta cheese layer.
- Sauce Layer. I used a mix of sautéed mushrooms and store-bought pasta sauce. I wanted to keep this Eggplant Lasagna vegetarian (and I adore mushrooms, whose satisfying flavor can more than stand in for meat) but if the ‘shrooms are not your thing or you’d like to add even more protein, you can swap the mushrooms for sautéed ground chicken, turkey, lean ground beef, or even Italian turkey sausage.
- Ricotta Cheese Layer. Since we’re already pushing lasagna boundaries by making this Eggplant Lasagna without noodles, for the cheese layer I stuck with a classic eggplant lasagna recipe formula. This recipe uses ricotta cheese mixed with an egg and Parmesan. Those of you who grew up in the Midwest and thus appreciate lasagna made with cottage cheese can certainly use it in place of the ricotta.
- Spinach Sneak. For an additional serving of vegetables, I mixed frozen chopped spinach in with the ricotta layer. Its mild taste is imperceptible, and it makes the Eggplant Lasagna an even more complete vegetarian meal.
How to Layer Eggplant Lasagna
Once you have your ricotta layer, roasted eggplant, and mushroom sauce, it’s time to assemble the layers of the lasagna!
- There is no set rule for how many layers a lasagna should have. The important thing is that you use a pan that is deep enough to hold all of the layers you have planned.
- For a traditional lasagna, the number of lasagna layers that fit into a standard 9×13-inch casserole dish is five to six (which usually accounts for two or three layers of noodles).
- In the case of this eggplant lasagna, since eggplant is thicker than traditional noodles, I stuck with two layers of eggplant, one dreamy, extra thick layer ricotta cheese, and two layers of sauce, all topped with mozzarella.
I like using fewer layers in this recipe. It’s easy to keep track of where you are with the layers, the Eggplant Lasagna bakes very evenly this way, and the layers fit nicely inside a standard baking dish you have on hand, no special lasagna pan required.
What to Serve with Eggplant Lasagna
- Grilled Chicken or Grilled Shrimp. Offering a side of grilled chicken or grilled shrimp (try my impossibly easy four-ingredient Grilled Shrimp Seasoning!) will please the meat-eaters at your table.
- Green Salad. Eggplant Lasagna pairs beautifully with a big, creamy, green salad. Try this Caesar Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad or toss some Romaine lettuce with my Homemade Caesar Dressing. For summer, the Strawberry Spinach Salad is perfection.
- Roasted Brussels Sprouts. For an extra-healthy side option, serve your Eggplant Lasagna with a side of Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Garlic.
- Garlic Bread. While some appreciate that Eggplant Lasagna is a low-carb alternative, others in your household may crave some carbs. Including a side of homemade bread is a foolproof way to satisfy everyone at your dinner table. Spread slices of this healthy Crock Pot Bread with butter, sprinkle it with Parmesan and the tiniest pinch of garlic salt, then pop it into a 400 degree F oven to toast for about 10 minutes. Your household with rave!
How to Store and Reheat Eggplant Lasagna
- I do not recommend freezing cooked eggplant lasagna. Like my Zucchini Pizza Boats, the eggplant becomes watery when thawed and doesn’t hold up well in the freezer.
- You can, however prep this recipe ahead and store it in the refrigerator!
- To Prepare Ahead: Roast the eggplant and prepare the ricotta layer and mushroom marinara layers up to 1 day in advance. Store each layer separately in the refrigerator. Assemble the Eggplant Lasagna just before baking or up to four hours in advance and refrigerate. When ready to bake, let the lasagna stand at room temperature while you preheat the oven.
- Cooked Eggplant Lasagna can be stored in the refrigerator for up to four days.
- To Reheat: Warm the Eggplant Lasagna gently in the microwave or covered in a 350 degree F oven, until heated through.
Eggplant Lasagna – Dietary Notes, Related Recipes, and Recipe Swaps
- Those looking for other veggie-forward lasagna recipes but who want their lasagna WITH noodles can check out my Skillet Lasagna with butternut squash or Crockpot Lasagna.
- Looking for a low-carb ravioli recipe instead? Try this scrumptious Zucchini Ravioli recipe.
- I also adore this low-carb boat-style Spaghetti Squash Lasagna.
- To add protein to this recipe, swap the mushrooms for ground turkey, ground chicken, lean ground beef, or ground Italian turkey sausage. You could also do a blend of half mushrooms/half meat.
- As written, this recipe is gluten free.
- Eggplant lasagna is keto friendly.
For those who’d like a pasta with eggplant recipe instead, check out my delicious Eggplant Pasta.
This Eggplant Lasagna was inspired by a desire to make the most of summer’s produce before the season ends. We loved it so much, however, I intend to make it year-round! I can’t wait for you to try it and see how tasty and comforting a no-noodle vegetarian Eggplant Lasagna can be.
- 2 large eggplants sliced lengthwise 3/4-inch thick (about 8 slices)
- 3 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil divided
- 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt divided
- ½ teaspoon black pepper divided
- 16 ounces sliced cremini (baby bella) mushrooms
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 (24-ounce) can prepared marinara-style pasta sauce of choice I used a roasted garlic flavor
- 1 (15-ounce) container part-skim ricotta cheese
- 1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach thawed with excess water squeezed out
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan divided
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese or a blend of mozzarella and provolone
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil thyme, or parsley
- Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of your oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly coat 2 rimmed baking sheets with nonstick spray. Coat a 9×13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray and set aside.
- Arrange sliced eggplant in a single layer on the 2 sheet pans—if some of your end-most eggplant slices are very curved, trim off the eggplant outermost curvy portion so that the slices lay mostly flat. Brush 2 1/2 tablespoons of the oil over both sides of all of the slices. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper over the top.
- Roast the eggplant until it is soft and golden, about 25 minutes, flipping the slices over and swapping the pans’ positions once halfway through. Remove the slices from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
- Meanwhile, in a large skillet heat the remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add the sliced mushrooms. Saute until the mushrooms are soft, about 7 minutes. Add the minced garlic, next ½ teaspoon kosher salt, and oregano. Cook for another 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the marinara pasta sauce and stir to combine.
- In a large bowl add the ricotta, 1/4 cup Parmesan, egg, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Mix well, until the mixture is evenly combined. Stir in the spinach, using a fork to break it up and distribute it as evenly with the ricotta mixture as possible.
- Spoon half of the mushroom marinara sauce on the bottom of the prepared baking dish and spread it into an even layer. Lay 4 eggplant slices on top followed by all of the ricotta mixture. Layer on another 4 slices of eggplant and finish with the remaining mushroom marinara sauce. Top with the mozzarella and remaining ¼ cup Parmesan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the lasagna is hot and bubbly. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with fresh herbs. Let rest 5 to 10 minutes, then serve.
- Refrigerate leftovers for up to 4 days. Rewarm gently in the microwave or covered in a 350 degree F oven, until heated through.
- I do not recommend freezing this recipe, as eggplant can become watery when frozen and thawed.
- For meal prep: roast eggplant and prepare the ricotta layer and mushroom marinara layers up to 1 day in advance. Store each layer separately in the refrigerator. Assemble just before baking or up to 4 hours in advance and refrigerate. When ready to bake, let the lasagna stand at room temperature while you preheat the oven.
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