Pasta with Aubergine and Ricotta / Pasta con melanzana e ricotta

Adapted from recipes by Jacqueline Debono and Ursula Ferrigno

Pasta with Abergine and Ricotta / Pasta con melanzana e ricotta

“A delicious combination of typical Mediterranean flavours in a baked version of a traditional recipe from Sicily.” Jacqueline Debono. “Lasagne has been enjoyed in Italy since Roman times. Baking pasta in layers with vegetables is healthy, tasty and very filling, and this is a perfect dish for sharing with family or friends.” Ursula Ferrigno

Credit: Adapted from recipes by Jacqueline Debono and Ursula Ferrigno

Ingredients

  • 40 ml good olive oil for cooking
  • 2 garlic cloves peeled and crushed
  • 1 white onion peeled and sliced
  • 5 large tomatoes cut in half seeds removed and chopped into small chunks
  • 400 g Italian tomato passata
  • 250 g (6 sheets) fresh lasagne egg pasta sheets
  • 2 medium sized aubergines cut into round slices 1 cm thick
  • 8 basil leaves chopped
  • 250 g Italian vegetarian ricotta
  • 40 g Freshly grated vegetarian pecorino cheese
  • 100 ml fresh milk
  • A pinch of nutmeg
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper and sea salt to taste

Method

    Prepare the ricotta cream
  1. Put the ricotta with the milk into a bowl. Add salt and pepper and a sprinkling of nutmeg.
  2. Mix with a whisk or fork to get a soft and homogeneous mixture. Cover and set aside.
  3. Preparing the tomato sauce
  4. Heat up some oil in a frying pan. Add the sliced onion and stir. Cook for about 5 minutes then add the garlic. Continue cooking for 2 minutes then add the fresh tomatoes. Stir frequently and cook on a low heat for 10 minutes stirring often until they start to soften.
  5. Add the passata, stir well and cook for another 10 minutes stirring frequently.
  6. Towards the end of cooking the sauce, add the chopped basil leaves and salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Turn off the heat and keep the sauce aside.
  8. The aubergines
  9. Heat some olive oil in another large frying pan, just enough to cover the bottom.
  10. Fry the aubergines slices, turning often until both sides are golden. Test with a fork until soft. Aubergines absorb a lot of oil so you may need to add more.
  11. Put the ready slices onto kitchen paper to get rid of some of the oil. You can also grill, or oven cook the aubergines for a slightly healthier dish.
  12. At this point everything is ready to make the lasagna: (pre-heat the oven to 200°C / 400°F / Gas mark 6)
  13. Spread one-third of the tomato sauce in the bottom of a square or rectangular oven dish and spread evenly. Add a layer of pasta sheets on top of the tomato sauce.
  14. Add another thin layer of tomato sauce, then a layer of aubergine slices then a layer of ricotta cream.
  15. Add another layer of pasta, another thin layer of tomato sauce then ricotta cream and then aubergine slices. Repeat until in total you will probably have 3 layers of pasta.
  16. Finish off with a layer of tomato sauce and grated vegetarian pecorino cheese on top.
  17. Cover with foil and bake on the top shelf of the oven for about 20 minutes. Remove the foil and return to the oven for 5 minutes. You can check if the pasta is cooked by putting a sharp knife into it. Allow the lasagna to stand for 5-10 minutes before serving. Cut into squares and serve with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil if required.
  18. Recipe Notes: You can use ready peeled tomatoes instead of fresh ones. I made this dish without precooking the pasta sheets. You can store Norma lasagne in the refrigerator, covered with plastic wrap or in an airtight container for 1-2 days.

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