My Food Science culinary course during the spring quarter of this year actually instructed us to make eggplant lasagna every single week for our labs! Yes, we learned how to use eggplant as pasta noodles and coat it in heaps of sauce and flavor! How amazing does that sound?
That being said, the eggplant lasagna recipe called for egg and Mozzarella cheese, hence I never actually tasted it. The eggplant lasagna as well as many other recipes in our laboratory manual also called for over a third or even half of a cup of oil, which is okay if you’re serving an entire lab class, but for yourself? I don’t think more than a tablespoon or two of oil is necessary for one person, but that’s just me.
From time to time, I have opted for cooking all of my recipes without oil. Personally, I don’t find oil to be a whole food, similarly to how I view cane sugar and agave. Unlike healthy fats, oils contain very little fiber and micronutrients in comparison to whole fat sources, such as avocados, nuts, seeds, coconut meat, and even nut or seed butters, which are derived–not stripped or extracted–from whole nuts and seeds. However, this is my personal preference, and I still eat oil at restaurants or if I am served a meal with oil, which occurred around once or twice a week during college, and a little more now that I’m home.
With that being said, eggplant is said to need oil in cooking because the fat maintains the softness of the texture. If oil is omitted, the eggplant turns out dry and rubbery. Personally, I’ve had little to no problems with roasting eggplant without oil, especially if the eggplant is cooked whole. However, this recipe takes patience. You cannot increase the temperature of the oven and expect things to move faster, since the eggplant won’t cook the same way.
For my own preference, I broiled the eggplant at the end to crisp up the edges and the top of the lasagna. If you do have the patience, then it is best to continue roasting until the blanket-soft texture has been accomplished. Raw eggplant is never a pleasant food to consume. Trust me–I’ve experienced that way too many times!
RECIPE (serves 1)
- 1 1/2 pounds of eggplant (this sounds like a lot, but you most likely won’t use all of it)
- 4-5 TBSP nutritional yeast
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 cup marinara sauce; I used a homemade recipe, but canned or jarred also works
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Cilantro to garnish
- Optional: shredded vegan cheese, rosemary, thyme, basil, olive oil, etc.
- Preheat the oven to 450F.
- Rinse the eggplant and pat dry.
- Slice the eggplant into evenly sized lasagna noodles.
- Carefully squeeze out all the excess water from each noodle.
- Rub salt and pepper to taste on each noodle layer.
- Individually spread marinara sauce and nutritional yeast on each noodle layer.
- In a oven-safe baking dish, slowly stack each layer on top of one another from largest to smallest.
- Roast the eggplant lasagna for 45 minutes or more. (OPTIONAL: broil for another 10 minutes to crisp the edges)
- Garnish with cilantro and serve.
Are you an oil lover? What’s your favorite way to have eggplant?