Aubergine Chilli Lasagna – healthy, low fat lasagna

I’ve just returned from a week in Lesotho and the Free State Highlands (the pretty artist’s retreat town of Clarens. Though I am no artist myself).

snow in Lesotho last week

After a week of restaurant meals and for some reason too much of German wurst (popular in the Clarens it seems), I was longing for a home cooked meal and planned this on the flight back from Johannesburg to Cape Town. As soon as we lifted the suitcases into the house, I left my husband to slowly unpack as I rushed out to the stores for suplies.

ochre landscape of Clarens

I’ve come up with a flavourful but healthier lasagna. The pasta sheets I used are the lower G.I one made with 20 % channa flour and instead of fattening bechamel sauce made with flour and butter, I used ricotta cheese. Now, I have nothing against a creamy white sauce. When I cooked this, I was listening to my body. Or the voices in my head.

I made three smaller lasagnas, you can make a big family sized one. Feel free to use normal pasta sheets and make a quick bechamel sauce if you prefer. I found the clean, fine creaminess of the ricotta blended with a little cream to be more than sufficient counterpoint to the lovely, rich tomato sauce. Ricotta is, as you know low in fat and high in protein too.

The tomato sauce has the seductive appeal of the Mediterranean because of the addition of the oilve tapenade or finely chopped black olives. This adds fantastic depth of flavour- please do add it.

Additionally the aubergines are grilled on high heat in a pan with very little olive oil.

Fear not about verging on too healthy or bland (eek!), as you do cover the lasagna in as much mozzarella cheese as you wish.

Ingredients

Serves 4-6

1 package lasagna sheets (I pre-cooked mine according to package instructions. You can also use uncooked and allow to sit for 40 min before baking)

1/2 medium onion, sliced

1 T olive oil + extra for pan frying aubergines

2 x 440 g cans peeled, chopped tomatoes

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 medium red chilli, chopped

1 t sugar

125 ml water

1 T chilli olive tapenade or 5 black olives finely chopped

2 medium aubergines, sliced lengthwise (medium thickness) & sprinkled with a little fine salt

2 tubs ricotta cheese

80 ml fresh cream

2 t chilli flakes

salt, to taste

125 ml cup grated mozzarella (or as much as you like)

Method

In a pan on medium heat, fry the onions in olive oil until translucent.

Add the canned tomatoes and cook for 3-4 minutes.

Add the chopped garlic, chilli, olives or olive tapenade, sugar and water.

Stir and season with salt.

Allow to cook further and thicken.

In the mean while, grill the aubergines in a Teflon coated pan, brushing them lightly with olive oil.

Turn the aubergine slices and set aside when soft (but not mushy).

Blend the ricotta, fresh cream, chilli flakes and salt till smooth with a hand held blender or processor.

In your chosen vessel(s), arrange a layer of tomato sauce, aubergine, ricotta cream and lasagne sheet.

Repeat, ending with tomato layer (not white sauce as per normal lasagne).

Top with mozzarella cheese.

If lasagna is not pre-cooked, allow to sit for 40 min.

Bake for 25- 30 min on 180 degrees Celsius till golden brown on top.

Bake for a further 15 – 20 minutes if using uncooked lasagna sheets.

 


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