No pasta lasagna... believe me this combo is just as good as the real deal! Swapping pasta for Zucchini and Eggplants gives you the right texture with a little less food coma...
500g mince beef
1 brown onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped or minced
1 carrot, grated
150g mushrooms, grated
2 cans of plain tinned chopped tomatoes
5 bay leaves
3 medium zucchinis
2 large eggplants
100g cheddar cheese, grated
200g ricotta cheese
Handful of parsley, chopped
Sauté chopped garlic, onion until translucent. Add carrot and mushrooms and continue to saute for 3 minutes. Add mince and brown.
Once mince is cooked, add tomato cans, stock and stir through. Once it starts to bubble, add bay leaves and lower temperature. Continue to boil on low heat for as long as practical. If you are short in time this process can be skipped, however if you have time low simmer for over an hour will increase the flavour and tenderness of the mince. During simmer process, monitor every 15 minutes and add water as liquid evaporates.
Option here also to use slow cooker (4 hours) or pressure cooker (1 hour) *
Sauce is ready once there is not much liquid in the sauce. During cooking, the vegetables will release water so if you need to crank up the heat to quickly reduce it this will also be fine!
After reducing, season to your preference with salt and pepper.
Remove bay leaves before using.
While sauce is simmering, thinly slice eggplant and zucchini. It can be challenging to get a thin long slice, watch your fingers! Aim for a 2-3mm slices.. it is not a big issue if some are broken or not the same size..use broken pieces for the middle layers and no one will ever know!
Previously I used raw vegetables for layering and although it tasted great still, the finished project was very watery and sloppy. I started grilling my veg and have never looked back! You can use your pan and lightly grill each piece on both sides for a minute or two. The aim is to help release and evaporate some of the liquid before using. It can be a little time consuming, but trust me its worth it (and your sauce is simmering anyway)! Once grilled if you have paper towel you can layer that in between the veg as you take it out of the pan.. if you don’t have, no problem :)
If your sauce is nearly done, now is a great time to preheat your oven to 180 degrees.
To layer, firstly work out how much you need to cover the dish you’re using with zucchini and keep this aside. MANY times I have gotten over excited and ended up with nothing left to top it off.. disaster!
There are no strict rules which layer goes first, use which ever you have most of first. Cover the base with a layer of vegetables. Using a spoon, spread across a layer or ricotta cheese then add 1/3 of your meat sauce. To hold your lasagna together well, change the direction of the vegetable layers as you go. Repeat this step another 2 times, or until you have run out of meat or veg. Top with the zucchini you left aside and cheese and parsley.
Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 20 minutes. The foil will prevent the cheese browning before the layers are tender. By this stage the layer should be cooked through well. If you are unsure or cut it thicker, check with a knife before removing.
If cheese is not crispy and brown by this stage, crank up the top grill and this will crisp it up in no time.
Allow to rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.