December 16th, 2013

Funky Kitchen Karma and Yummy Eggplant “Lasagna”


It was more than my hope, it was my intention to have numerous posts this month. The kitchen muse thought otherwise. What a spate of not-quite wonderful dishes and complete duds the past two weeks!

The first was the worst: my glaceed chestnuts. Mealy and a misery. Ugh. A chuck into the trash bin was all they deserved, with no looking back.


Next up, Maggie and I made panettones. What an involved fun project! We ordered the special baking forms and Fiori di Sicilia extract. I candied orange, grapefruit, and clementine peels. Maggie made the Biga, or starter.


As the breads baked, they imparted incredible aromatics but they lacked the distinctive soft, spongy texture that makes them a pleasure to eat. Maggie and I both plan on turning that misfortune into panettone bread pudding.

More yolks? A better rise? I will rework the recipe, and try it again. Practice! Failing that, I will respect that most Italian households with accomplished cooks in the kitchen still purchase their Christmas panettones from their local bakers.


And lastly, something went awry with the beautiful Linzer cookie recipe that I found here. The crumbly dough would not roll out. I’ve since figured out what I did wrong.(I used frozen raw egg yolks—but I should have added 1 1/2 teaspoons of sugar to the 4 yolks before I froze them. Then, they wouldn’t have been gummy.) I rescued that though, by baking the cookies in individual petite tins in a variety of shapes, and filling them with raspberry preserves.


Okay, The power of threes–three up, three strikes, three outs. Let’s hope this spell of funky kitchen karma is over.

In the meantime, I want to share a successful recipe that you’d be pleased to serve during the holidays. It’s vegetarian; it’s gluten free, and will serve a crowd. It’s even got the Christmas colors going for it: roasted tomato-sweet red pepper sauce and fresh spinach-laced ricotta are spread between thick roasted slabs of eggplant. It is not eggplant parmesan. It’s not lasagna either. There’s no pasta–the eggplant takes the place of the noodles. The best part: it is simply delicious.


I’ll be back soon, with other good things, I promise.
I wish you beneficent times in the kitchen. May the muse smile upon your efforts.



Like most lasagna recipes, there are 3 easy steps to the recipe, before you assemble the layers.

RED SAUCE: Sweet Red Pepper-Tomato

4 large red bell peppers, each cut in half, stemmed and seeded
2 medium onions, peeled and quartered
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
salt and black pepper to sprinkle over the vegetables
28 oz can whole plum tomatoes and sauce

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the red bell pepper halves and onion quarters onto a baking sheet. Coat with olive oil (about 3 tablespoons) and sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Place the canned plum tomatoes and their sauce onto a separate baking sheet. Drizzle with remaining oil. Season with salt and black pepper. Place both baking sheets into the oven. Roast for 15-20 minutes, until the red bell pepper skins are blackened and blistered. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. When cool enough to handle, peel the pepper skins and discard.

Combine the roasted red bell peppers and onions with the roasted tomatoes into a large saucepan. Using an immersion blender, puree them together until smooth. You may add a little water–start with 1/2 cup—-if the mixture is too thick. Taste for seasonings and adjust as needed.


“GREEN CHEESE” Spinach Ricotta
1/4 pound fresh spinach leaves
1 pound whole milk ricotta
1 egg
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic

Place all of the ingredients into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse until all of the spinach is finely chopped and incorporated into the ricotta. The mixture will be creamy green.

3 large eggplants
kosher salt
olive oil

2 cups shredded cheese: 1 cup mozzarella, 1 cup sharp white cheddar

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Slice the eggplants lengthwise, about 1/2 inch-3/4 inch thick. Lay the pieces onto a baking sheet and sprinkle with kosher salt.
Allow them to “sweat”—about 15 minutes—-then gently dab the water droplets with a paper towel.

Drizzle both sides of the eggplant with olive oil and place back onto the baking sheet. Place into the oven and roast for 15 minutes.
Remove, and using a metal spatula, flip the eggplant. Roast for another 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Keep the shredded cheese handy for the assembly.



Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Coat the bottom and sides of 2 casserole pans with olive oil. Ladle a generous spoonful of red sauce onto the bottom. Cover the sauce with a layer of eggplant, followed by a layer of spinach-ricotta, and a sprinkle of shredded cheese. Repeat the process: red sauce, eggplant, ricotta, shredded cheese.

Baked uncovered for 25-30 minutes, until the casserole is bubbling hot. Let the eggplant lasagna sit undisturbed for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 15-20


Posted in Casseroles, Gluten Free, Recipes, Vegetarian Dishes

20 Responses to “Funky Kitchen Karma and Yummy Eggplant “Lasagna””
  1. Denise | Chez Danisse Says:

    It all looks fabulous to me. Panettone bread pudding seems a fine solution. My mother makes panettone french toast. Another possibility for you. I spy sesame cookies. My favorite cookie! Looks like you are having fun, Nancy.

  2. Jill Melton Says:

    Nancy, I loved this post. This always happens to me, and it’s good to know I have some company, especially from someone as accomplished as you. But that’s the glory of the kitchen, right? You never know what’s going to happen and lots of duds are inevitable. It’s what you make of them that matters, and the panettone bread pudding is perfect. I made some “dud” onion rolls for Thanksgiving and turned most of them into strata, which was wonderful…but not sure how to write that recipe. I will be making the lasagna this week for a bunch of college students. Sounds perfect. Happy holidays. And here’s to a 2014 filled with good kitchen karma. Jill

  3. Beth Says:

    I’m sorry about all the disappointments – but the lasagna sounds great!

  4. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Denise—I love the idea of panettone french toast. Terrific use for the bread! And, you did spy correctly—those are Biscotti Regina, such delicious Italian sesame cookies. I will post that recipe soon.

    Jill–all the best to you and yours this holiday season. And yes, here’s to an abundance of good kitchen karma in 2014.

    Beth—those disappointments are just part of the process, sometimes. the “lasagna” is a winner, though. Have wonderful holidays!

  5. Barbara Says:

    I was smiling all through your post, Nancy. It happens to all of us. Our kitchen mojo takes a brief hike. What scares me is I remember my aging mother saying at one point, I can’t cook anymore, nothing turns out right. And that was the end of our holiday meals at her house. I think one of the reasons I do my blog is hoping it won’t happen to me! :)

  6. ernestine Says:

    Another smile this early morning.
    I will half the lasagna
    for this one
    sounds so good…

  7. heather Says:

    Eggplant, cheese and red sauce make up my favorite foods! I can’t wait to make and share this with my mother who loves eggplant parmesan, I know she’ll really love this too. Thank you Nancy!

  8. fluffy Says:

    nancy I loved the eggplant, and I can’t wait to try the panettone french toast!

    here’s to good karma in the kitchen

  9. Kath Says:

    Oh no I hate it when the mojo goes. But, as bad as it might sound it makes me feel better that you struggle with it too. I am impressed with you attempting the panettone and the bread pudding sounds like a shining light at the end of the tunnel.

  10. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Hi Kath—I am attempting the panettone again today—a little different recipe…we’ll see!

    Barbara—great observation. we have to keep cooking and blogging to keep the good karma going our way!

  11. Adri Says:

    O heavens, I have thrown more things in the trash than I can count. So goes life in the kitchen! It’s all a big experiment, and one thing I will say – even for the disasters, perhaps most especially from the disasters, is the only way to learn is to do it. And as a dear friend once told me “Adri, we do not learn from our successes.” So those failures make us better people! More humble also!

    Your lasagne looks wonderful, and, so, by the way, do your Biscotti Regina – Merry Christmas and Happy Cooking to you and yours!

  12. Maggie Says:

    Hey Nance! It was fun though!!! And, I’ve already made the panettone bread pudding and I assure you all that it is fabulous!!! And your lasagna sounds amazing.. Happy Holidays….

  13. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Mag—it was a lot of fun. I am making one panettone today—following “Yellow Saffron’s” you tube, but using the Fiori di Sicilia extract, craisins, currants, and candied citrus. It is on its final (4th !) rise now—the dough feels really good, with more eggs, yolks, and butter, more kneading and more (and longer) rises. Time will tell!

  14. Teresa, foodonfifth Says:

    Just looking at the panettone’s one would not think they were a failure? They are really pretty and look just like bakery ones. We all have lots of duds in the kitchen and every now and then a run of duds. I made some pumpkin scones that were beautiful, but tasted like grainy cardboard! How is that for an image? Such is life…I made them again and they turned out just fine and dandy to my amazement. What made that difference between one baking and another? Who knows? I do know from doing much baking that the weather can be a big factor…rainy, wet, humid weather is not positive for many kitchen endeavours…slight mis-measurements…ingredients that are not fresh….oh so many things to consider….we cooks must be intrepid! Carry on and bring forth panettone!

  15. Patricia Says:

    I love, love panettone, but I’m avoiding it this year because it’s so freaking high in calories. If you find a lower calorie recipe, please let us know. In the meantime, I’m serving for Christmas a couple of Greek tsoureki loaves that I got at the Greek Orthodox bake sale. Tsoureki has a similar flavor but without the fruit – and is lower in calories!

  16. goodfoodmatters Says:

    HI Patricia–thanks for the tip about the Tsoureki. I have a blogging friend, Magda, of My Little ExPat Kitchen, who is a Greek living in the Netherlands. I bet she has a delicious Tsoureki recipe on her website.

    I’m afraid that the best tasting panettones have the most eggs and butter in them.

  17. Tammy Says:

    I’m sure you know by now that I adore eggplant recipes. I think we’re finally done with it for the season but I’ll hold on to this one for the future – love the green cheese.

  18. Karen (Back Road Journal) Says:

    I think you definitely got rid of the bad karma with you eggplant lasagna. I hope you have had a lovely Christmas.

  19. Says:

    That lasagne looks amazing! I definitely need to make that stat! :)

  20. Jan Says:

    Hi Nancy
    I tried your recipe today and sorry to say it was pretty bad.
    Everything was very bitter. The tomato sauce, spinach and eggplant combo delivered bitter on bitter.
    The cheese wasnt enough to cover the bitterness.

    I have removed the “exotic” eggplants and will reuse the sauce with a proper mince lasagne tomorrow and see how that goes.


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