Smoky Eggplant Lasagna

This recipe is from Hide the Cheese and is a wonderful marriage of lasagna and eggplant parmasean. The smoky flavor blends so well with the eggplant.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 eggplant, diced
2-28oz. cans chopped tomatoes
1 tea. Liquid Smoke
salt and pepper to taste
1 pound lasagna noodles
1-15-ounce container ricotta
1 pound shredded mozzarella
about 30 fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup parmasean cheese

*You can use Smoky mozzarella instead of mozzarella and Liquid Smoke

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large saute pan. Add the onions, carrots, and garlic and eggplant and Liquid Smoke andcook until they soften, 10-15 minutes. If you are adding fresh tomatoes, add them with their juice. If you use canned tomatoes, drain most of the water, but add enough to make the vegetables slightly saucy. Cook with the tomatoes and until the sauce has thickened and the flavors have blended, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

I use the lasagna noodles that cook while they bake, but if you are using regular lasagna noodles you will want to cook the lasagna noodles now according to the package directions. Drain the noodles and run cold water over them stirring them gently with a wooden spoon or your hands to keep them from sticking.

Spread a thin layer of the sauce in the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch casserole dish. Arrange a single layer of noodles on top of the sauce. Spread a large spoonful of ricotta across each noodle. Top with a few basil leaves. Add a layer of sauce. Repeat with another layer just like that, noodles, ricotta, basil, sauce. You should have enough ricotta for a second layer. For the next layer, use noodles, mozzarella, basil, and sauce. Keep adding layers until you run out of sauce or space in the dish, whichever happens first. For me, this was a total of four layers of noodles. The last layer should have sauce topped by mozzarella. Top with parmasean cheese.

Bake the lasagna until the cheese is melted, about 30 minutes. If you would like the cheese on the top to brown a bit, remove the lasagna and heat the oven to broil. Put the lasagna back in for a couple of minutes, until the cheese begins to turn a golden brown. Watch very carefully because it will brown quickly and the last thing you need is to burn the lasagna. Remove from the oven immediately. Let it rest for a couple of minutes before you slice and serve.

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