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
- 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
- Prepare the ricotta cream
- Put the ricotta with the milk into a bowl. Add salt and pepper and a sprinkling of nutmeg.
- Mix with a whisk or fork to get a soft and homogeneous mixture. Cover and set aside. Preparing the tomato sauce
- 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.
- Add the passata, stir well and cook for another 10 minutes stirring frequently.
- Towards the end of cooking the sauce, add the chopped basil leaves and salt and pepper to taste.
- Turn off the heat and keep the sauce aside. The aubergines
- Heat some olive oil in another large frying pan, just enough to cover the bottom.
- 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.
- 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. At this point everything is ready to make the lasagna: (pre-heat the oven to 200°C / 400°F / Gas mark 6)
- 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.
- Add another thin layer of tomato sauce, then a layer of aubergine slices then a layer of ricotta cream.
- 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.
- Finish off with a layer of tomato sauce and grated vegetarian pecorino cheese on top.
- 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. 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.