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Eggplant Lasagna With Basil
7 servings

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, finely diced
salt and pepper
1/2 ts dried basil
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 cup dry red wine
28 oz tomatoes with juice, pureed
1 bay leaf

2 1/2 lb Japanese eggplant (about 7-c), sliced 1/2" thick
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
salt and pepper

1 lb ricotta cheese
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese (1 oz), grated
3 pn freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 ts salt
1/8 ts pepper

2 1/2 cup milk
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
3 Tbsp unbleached white flour
several leaves parsley, sage, thyme, marjoram, bundled together
1/4 ts salt
1/8 ts pepper

2/3 cup Parmesan cheese (2 oz), grated
1 1/4 cup provolone cheese (3 oz), grated
1 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese (3 oz), grated
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1 lb fresh pasta sheets

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan. Add the onion, 1/2 tsp. salt, a
pinch of pepper, and the basil, saute over medium heat until soft,
5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for 5 minutes, then add
the wine and simmer 1 to 2 minutes, until pan is nearly dry. Add
tomatoes, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and bay leaf, simmer, uncovered, for
30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat the oven to 375F. Toss the eggplant with the olive oil,
the garlic, 1/2 tsp. salt, and a few pinches of pepper. Place the
slices on a baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes, until slices
are soft in center. Cool and slice into thick strips. Season to
taste with salt and pepper. The eggplant should be very flavorful.

Place the ricotta in a mixing bowl and stir in eggs, add cheese,
nutmeg, salt and pepper and mix thoroughly.

Heat milk in a saucepan. Melt the butter in a separate pan, add
flour, and cook the resulting roux over low heat for 2-3 minutes,
stirring constantly. When the milk is scalded, pour it onto the
roux a little at a time, whisking continuously. Add the bundled
herbs, salt, and pepper. Cook over low heat for 10 minutes. Remove
the herbs just before assembling lasagna.

Toss the cheeses together and set aside 1/3 cup to sprinkle on top
during baking. Reserve 1 Tbsp basil to sprinkle on top after baking.
When you're ready to assemble lasagna, preheat oven to 350F. In
bottom of a 9 by 13-inch baking pan, spread 1 1/2 cups tomato sauce
and cover it with a layer of pasta. Pour another cup of sauce over
the pasta, followed by half the eggplant. Sprinkle with half the
mixed cheeses, half the chopped basil, and another layer of pasta.
Spread the ricotta custard evenly over the pasta and cover with
another layer of pasta. Add a last cup of tomato sauce and then
rest of eggplant and basil, follow with the rest of the cheese and
a final layer of pasta. Top with the bechamel. Cover and bake for
20 minutes. Sprinkle with the reserved 1/3 cup cheeses, and bake,
uncovered, until the bechamel has set, 10-15 minutes. Remove from
the oven and sprinkle with reserved basil.

For more intense basil flavor, substitute pesto for the basil.
Spread the sauce over the layers of eggplant, then sprinkle with
the cheese. You can also make the lasagna without bechamel, using
tomato sauce in its place. Double the sauce recipe.

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