Eggplant and Chicken Lasagna

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I decided to learn how to cook when I was single and living with roommates.  I had a lot of cooking fails.  A particular one I remember vividly was my chicken and pasta with garlic cream sauce.  My roommate and I were at the grocery store getting all the ingredients for my pasta dish and I turned to her and asked her if Nutrawhip is the same as whipping cream.  She said yes.  And so I bought the Nutrawhip, went home and started making my pasta dish.  I also happen to have invited three friends to come over for dinner that night.  As I was about done with my dish, I asked one of my friends to taste the pasta to see if I needed to add more seasoning.  My friend, who is now my husband, turned to me and said “why is the sauce sweet and garlicky?” Sweet? I went on panic mode.  So to compensate for the sweetness, I decided to add more salt.  So that night, for dinner with friends, I served them sweet, salty, garlicky pasta with chicken and broccoli.  I never lived that night down.  Thankfully that failed cooking attempt didn’t stop me from trying my hand at cooking and I learned that Nutriwhip is definitely not the same as whipping cream (the strawberries on the carton should have really told me that it’s sweetened whipping cream).

Next door to me at that time, lived another friend of mine.  She was just one year older than me, but she was living on her own for a lot longer than me by that time.  This friend can take the simplest ingredients and make it into something so delicious and nourishing.  I remember every Monday night after work, I’d head over to her place next door and she’d make me a cosmopolitan and for dinner, she’d make her chicken and eggplant lasagna.  It took her no time to whip up this lasagna, but it tastes like one of those dishes that you slaved away for hours to make.  Clearly this dish quickly became one of my all-time faves.  Since then I’ve made her eggplant and chicken lasagna over and over again.  This dish is comfort food even without any pasta.  You don’t believe me? Well, let’s break it down – you have layers of broiled eggplants*, seasoned chicken, pasta sauce (or your own marinara sauce) and melted cheese and so really, what more can you ask for? This dish is excellent if you want to cut down on carbs or add more veggies to your diet and it’s a great dish for you gluten free lovers out there!  I hope I’ve convinced you to try out this recipe.

Eggplant and Chicken Lasagna
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 lb of eggplants, cut into ¼ inch rounds*
  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 lb of boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 cups of tomato based pasta sauce
  • ½ lb of fresh mozzarella cheese, grated
  • ⅓ cup of Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup of lightly packed basil leaves
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil
Instructions
  1. Oil two cookie sheets and put a single layer of eggplants on each sheet
  2. Season eggplants with a bit of salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil
  3. Broil the eggplants for a couple of minutes on each side or until browned
  4. Turn off the broiler and heat oven to 425F
  5. In a large non-stick frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over moderately high heat
  6. Season the chicken with ¼ teaspoon of salt and ⅛ teaspoon of pepper and add to the pan
  7. Partially cook the chicken for about 2 minutes on each side and remove from pan
  8. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, cut the chicken crosswise and then cut it into slices
  9. In a lasagna dish or baking dish, add a layer of broiled eggplant, top with slices of chicken, tomato sauce, mozzarella, parmesan cheese and basil (if using basil) and repeat with the remaining ingredients
  10. Finish off lasagna with remaining cheeses and bake for 20 minutes or until the cheeses are melted and bubbly
  11. Let sit for 5 minutes before cutting
Notes
*To lessen the bitterness from the eggplants and to release excess water, salt the eggplant rounds and let them sit for about 30 minutes to "sweat." Then, rinse off the salt from the eggplant and proceed with the recipe.

 

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*Here’s a bit of information on eggplants:

  • eggplants are low in calories and are packed full with vitamins, minerals and fibre
  • eggplants are available year round, but they are in season from August- October
  • an antioxidant called nasunin is found in eggplant skin and it helps protect cell membranes from damage
  • choose eggplants that are firm and heavy for their size
  • when buying eggplants, make sure the skin is smooth and shiny and free of discolouration and bruises
  • to reduce bitterness, sweat eggplants first by salting it for about 30 minutes and then rinse it to remove most of the salt
  • you can make eggplants in a variety of ways-  you can add them to your stews or  soups, they can be stuffed, baked, fried, pickled, roasted, grilled, etc.

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