I have lots of foodie friends, both real and virtual.
Of course they are all real, it's just that I haven't met many of the "virtual" ones in person.
My farmers market friends are the ones I know face to face - like Eunice and Larry at Larry's Veggies, Ian at White Cane Salmon, and Alethea at Fiore di Capra.
The virtual ones I still need to meet are my blog-writing friends. While I have met five so far (in the order I met them: Ahu of Ahu Eats, Andrea of The KitchenLioness, Caroline of Pinch Me, I’m Eating, Nazneen of Coffee and Crumpets, and Carolyne from Perfectly Provence and Ginger and Nutmeg) there are so many more I want - and need - to meet. Markipedia calls them my “imaginary friends” but there is nothing imaginary about their generosity in sharing recipes, beautiful photographs, charming stories, and practical tips with the whole world.
Today's recipe for Eggplant Lasagne comes from one of them - John Amici, writer of From the Bartolini Kitchens. I met John, as so many of us do, through comments on someone else's blog. Or maybe he found me that way - I really can't remember.
I am a big fan of his stories and recipes, and have made quite a few. He has written a cookbook, as well - you can read about it on his website. I asked him if it was okay if I shared the lasagne recipe with you. He said he was honored.
But, the actual day I was planning to make this happened to be a Sunday, and that is our farmers market day. I got all the way to the end of the market and found a new vendor, a new foodie friend - Robert of Trigo y Maíz (Spanish for Wheat and Corn). He was rolling out beautiful sheets of spinach pasta. My work for the day was done.
And so, with a little help from my friends John (the recipe) and Robert (the pasta), we had a lovely dinner.
Recipe by John Amici, From the Bartolini Kitchen
1 large eggplant - a little over a pound
1 quart homemade tomato sauce
8 ounces fresh spinach pasta sheets
3 ounces mozzarella cheese, grated
3 ounces Asiago cheese, grated
3 ounces Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
5 slices fresh mozzarella, 1/4-inch thick
Pecorino Romano cheese, grated, for serving
Preheat oven to 450˚F. Liberally butter an 8-inch baking dish.
Trim off ends of eggplants, and remove alternating slices of the skin with a vegetable peeler; slice into 1/2 inch rounds. You will need enough to make two layers in your pan. Keep in mind they will shrink while baking. Place rounds in a single layer on a rack resting upon a baking sheet. Lightly spray each side and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 15 minutes; remove from oven and set aside. Reduce oven to 350˚F.
Meanwhile, cook lasagna noodles for 2 minutes; rinse in cold water and set aside to dry on paper towels. (Note: If using dried noodles, cook per the instructions on the package. If using "no boil" noodles, dunk them for a few seconds in water to begin the softening.)
Mix the mozzarella and Asiago cheeses together in a bowl; set aside.
Lightly coat the bottom of the buttered baking dish with 1/2 cup tomato sauce. Place cooked pasta sheets on the sauce to create a single layer. Add a single layer of baked eggplant rounds and cover with a layer of sauce. Sprinkle half of the mozzarella and Asiago cheese mixture, them sprinkle with a third of the grated Pecorino Romano. Add another layer of noodles, eggplant rounds, sauce, and cheeses. Add the final layer of noodles and enough tomato sauce to cover. Evenly distribute the mozzarella slices and sprinkle the rest of the Pecorino Romano cheese on top.
Cover the lasagne with buttered aluminum foil (buttering the foil keeps the cheese from sticking). Bake for 20 minutes, uncover, raise the oven temperature to 450˚F (230˚ C), and bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes more.
Allow to rest at least 15 minutes before cutting; serve with grated Pecorino Romano at the table.