GREEK-STYLE EGGPLANT AND LAMB LASAGNE (for eight)
2 pounds eggplant (about 2 medium)
olive oil for brushing
For the meat sauce:
2 large onions, chopped (about 2 cups)
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds ground lamb (preferably 10% fat)
a 28 to 32 ounce can whole tomatoes with juice
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper, more to taste
For the white sauce:
½ stick (¼ cup) unsalted butter
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups whole milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
an 8 ounce package feta, crumbled (about 1-½ cups – you could add 8 ounces Greek Kasseri cheese to this if you like)
twelve 7 x 3 inch lasagne noodles, either oven-ready (no boil, soaked in a bowl of very warm water for 3 to 5 minutes so that they will be pliable enough to trim to fit your baking dish, if necessary) or dried (cooked according to package instructions and separated)
- Cut eggplant lengthwise into 1/3 inch thick slices and sprinkle slices on both sides with salt. Arrange eggplant in a large colander and weight it with a heavy bowl. Drain eggplant for 1 hour. Remove bowl and pat eggplant dry.
- Set broiler rack so that eggplant will be about 4 inches from heat and preheat broiler. Arrange eggplant in 1 layer in oiled shallow baking pans and brush with oil. Broil eggplant until golden, about 3 minutes on each side.
- Make the meat sauce. In a large heavy non-stick skillet cook onions and garlic in oil over moderate heat, stirring, until softened. Add lamb and cook, stirring to break up, until it is no longer pink, about 3 minutes. Stir in remaining meat sauce ingredients and salt and pepper to taste and simmer, uncovered, 30 minutes. Meat sauce may be made 3 days ahead, cooled completely, and chilled, covered.
- Make white sauce while meat sauce is cooking. In a heavy saucepan melt butter over moderately low heat and whisk in flour until smooth. Cook roux, whisking, 3 minutes. Whisk in milk in a stream and salt and pepper to taste and simmer, whisking occasionally, 5 minutes, or until thick. Whisk in egg, whisking vigorously, and simmer sauce, whisking, 1 minute. White sauce may be made 2 days ahead and chilled, its surface covered with plastic wrap.
- Preheat oven to 375*.
- Pour 1 cup meat sauce into a flame proof baking dish, 13 by 9 by 2 inches (sauce will not cover the bottom completely), and cover with 3 lasagne sheets (if you are using no-boil lasagne noodles, leave space between them and do not allow them to touch the edges of the pan. They will expand as they bake. If you have boiled lasagne noodles, overlap them slightly). Spread about 1-½ cups meat sauce over pasta and arrange 1 layer broiled eggplant on top. Gently spread about ½ cup white sauce over eggplant and sprinkle with about 1/3 cup feta. Make 2 more layers in same manner, beginning and ending with pasta. Spread remaining white sauce evenly over top pasta layer, making sure pasta is completely covered, and sprinkle with remaining feta.
- Cover dish tightly with oiled foil, tenting slightly to prevent foil from touching top layer, and bake in the middle of the oven for 50 minutes. Remove foil and bake lasagne 15 minutes more, or until top is bubbling.
- Set broiler rack so that lasagne will be about 4 inches from the broiler and preheat broiler.
- Broil lasagne 2 to 3 minutes, or until golden. Let lasagne stand 15 minutes before serving.
adapted from Gourmet Magazine, December, 1995