I almost thought of naming this post ‘meat-less noodle-less lasagne’, lol, but then I thought that might not sound too appealing. This is a very slight adaptation of one of Giada De Laurentiis’s recipes, whom I also absolutely adore! It is a delicious layering of crushed tomatoes, vegetables, and mozzarella. You build it just like a lasagne, just minus the actual lasagne. 😉
1 Small Eggplant
1 Red Bell Pepper
1 Yellow Bell Pepper
1 Fennel Root
2 (14.5 oz) Cans Muir Glen Fire Roasted Crushed Tomatoes
(note I am always specific about my tomatoes, hehe)
16 oz of Shredded Mozzarella
Oil for drizzling
Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper
Preheat the oven to 375 deg F. Slice the eggplant about 1/4 inch thick. Trim the stalks off and slice the fennel root to about 1/4 inch thickness also (large width as shown is ok though). Then slice the bell peppers into strips (centers and seeds removed). Drizzle the veggies and a grilling pan with oil. Place the pan on the stove top over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, prepare a 13″ x 9″ baking dish with a layer of half a can of the crushed tomatoes on the bottom.
Start with the eggplant and grill the slices for a few minutes on each side. They should soften a little and have some nice seared grill marks on them. Begin layering the grilled eggplant into the baking dish until the bottom is covered. Pour the other half can of tomatoes over the eggplant layer, spread out the sauce and then add a layer of about 1/3 of the mozzarella. Sprinkle the layer with a little bit of salt and pepper. If you’re a skilled multi-tasker (as I am sure you are), I’d go ahead an start letting the bell peppers begin grilling while you layer the sauce and cheese over the eggplant. Repeat with a layer of the bell peppers, sauce, and cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Then again with the fennel, remaining sauce, and cheese. Before added that last layer of cheese, I often use a spatula to press the layers into the baking dish.
Bake at 375 deg F covered with foil for about 35-40 minutes. In the last five minutes, remove the foil and switch to a broil to get a nice browned cheese layer on the top. My kids distracted me during this session, so my broiling job went a little longer then I meant for it too. 🙂 Remove and let cool 10 minutes before serving.
My father is a very hearty meat eater. And my mother is always nagging him about how much he eats per meal. I don’t mean this is a negative way at all, just one of those funny typical bickering rituals that they do. Yet, when I made this dish during a visit with them, my father happily returned for seconds and my mom gave him that creased eyebrow look she always does. “What?” he said, “It’s vegetables, I’m eating healthy!” LOL!