Chunky bolognese sauce is stacked between layers of roasted eggplant and seasoned ricotta.
I didn’t grown up in a house where spaghetti and meatballs were the go-to dinner, and when mom did make spaghetti, she went all out with a pot that simmered all day long. Lucky for me, my BFF DID grow up in a big Italian family, so when I need a go-to recipe, she’s my main gal and for her, her go-to is this one from real simple, and that was good enough for me.
Since pasta ain’t my cuppa, I didn’t know how I wanted to eat the sauce (though, seriously, with a spoon was a possible option) so I decided to do sort of a deconstructed lasagna thing. I say this loosely because it’s not swimming in sauce, nor baked the traditional way and isn’t all that cheesy. So maybe not a lasagna thing…I guess more appropriately eggplant stacks. The eggplant rounds are baked until cooked and layered with lightly seasoned ricotta and the whole thing is topped with that chunky, perfect sauce.
- 2 eggplants, cut into 12 1/2" slices
- 1 TB olive oil
- 1/2 TB oregano
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1/2 cup part-skim ricotta
- 1 tsp garlic, diced
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 TB olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, diced (about 1 cup)
- 3 stalks celery, diced
- 1 carrot, diced
- 6 clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 pound pancetta, medium dice
- 1 pound ground beef (I used 90% lean)
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 6 ounce can tomato paste
- 1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes, with juice
- 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 TB dried oregano
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- pinch nutmeg
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan, plus more to garnish
- 1/4 cup basil, julienne
- First, make the bolognese.
- In a large, deep stock pot, over medium heat, add the 1 TB oil. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the celery, carrot, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper and cook 5 minutes more.
- Add the pancetta and cook about 5 minutes. Add the beef and cook until brown.
- Add the remaining ingredients, cover and let simmer about 1 1/4 hours.
- While the sauce boils, make the eggplant. Preheat the oven to 375F. On a foil lined cookie sheet, lay out the eggplant rounds and brush each side with the olive oil. Sprinkle with oregano, salt and pepper and bake about 45 minutes until browned. Set aside until the sauce is done.
- Mix together the ricotta, garlic and pepper. Set aside.
- Assemble the eggplant stacks: On each plate, place eggplant round and top with 1 heaping TB ricotta. Add about 1/3 cup sauce. Repeat with two more rounds (to create 3 layers), and top with sauce, cheese and basil. Repeat for the remaining 4 plates.
- You will have extra sauce, so freeze it for later!
Whatever you want to call them, they’re sort of ugly-pretty, don’t you think?
Written after a pretty-scary haunted boat ride. Boo!