Bon Appetit Wednesday! Celebrate National Lasagna Day With Eggplant Lasagna Rollups

Lasagna Classico

Lasagna Classico

Today is National Lasagna Day and it is a holiday that begs to be celebrated in a big way. Of course, if you’re vegan or gluten-free, you’re probably running as fast as you can from the festivities. AntiquityNOW to the rescue! We’re bringing you a vegan-friendly, no-gluten-in-sight recipe for Eggplant Lasagna Rollups–and we’re including a healthy dollop of history.

Obviously, Italy gets all the credit as the giver of the gift that is lasagna. However, its ancient origin can be traced all the way back to Greece. The word lasagna sounds an awful lot like the Greek word laganon, a “flat sheet of dough cut into strips”.[1] When the Romans came along, they quickly realized that laganon was delicious and began cooking it themselves. (Check out this article about Food in the Roman World). They borrowed the word laganon, but turned it into lasanum, which referred to the pot in which they cooked the pasta.[2] Eventually, laganon became lasagna and supposedly, the rest is history. Today, the Greeks even have their own version of lasagna, called pastitsio.

However, tracing lasagna straight back to the Romans by way of the Greeks would be way too easy. There is another theory about where the hearty meal originated, this one from the British. In an attempt to claim what is generally thought of as a true Italian dish, the Brits point to a 14th century recipe called Loseyn. Researchers studying a medieval cookbook, The Forme of Cury, in the British Museum, say the recipe is most definitely the original lasagna.[3] However, there is quite a bit of room for disagreement. For one thing, the recipe doesn’t include meat, a major staple in traditional lasagna recipes. Also, there were no tomatoes being cooked in England in the 14th century. Loseyn does include pasta layered with cheese. So the answer of lasagna’s origin depends on what you believe is the defining ingredient in lasagna. Is it the meat, the tomatoes, the pasta or the cheese?

While we’re not going to weigh in officially on the argument over the origin, we are going to say, with no hesitation, that lasagna is delicious in all its many forms – cheesy, meaty, vegan, vegetarian, red sauce, white sauce – we love it all!

Now that you’ve been schooled in the history of lasagna, try these Eggplant Lasagna Rollups, courtesy of the Minimalist Baker. Or if you’re looking for something a little meatier and dairy-full, click here for a list of 19 Lasagna Recipes That Will Change Your Life from Buzzfeed.

Eggplant Lasagna Rollups

Gluten Free buttonVegan Button copy*Recipe courtesy of minimalistbaker.com. Click here for step by step instructions, pictures and cooking tips.

Makes 11-12 rollups

Ingredients

  • 2 eggplants, sliced into 12 1/4-inch slices lengthwise OR 12 lasagna noodles, boiled

TOFU FILLING

  • 2 lemons, juiced (~1/3 cup)
  • 1 12-ounce block extra firm tofu, drained and pressed dry for 10 minutes
  • 3 tablespoons of nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 cup of fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 3-4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper (1/2 teaspoon each)
  • 1/4 cup of vegan parmesan cheese (optional)

FOR SERVING

  • Vegan parmesan cheese
  • 2-3 cups favorite marinara/red sauce
  • Fresh basil, chopped (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Salt eggplant slices on both sides and arrange in a colander in the sink to remove excess water/bitterness for 15 minutes. (If using lasagna noodles, boil, drain and set aside.)
  3. Rinse salted eggplant slices well and dry thoroughly between two clean absorbent towels. Lay a baking sheet on top and place something heavy on top to absorb excess moisture.
  4. Arrange slices on 1-2 baking sheets in an even layer and bake in a 425 oven for 13-15 minutes. Set aside and reduce heat to 375 degrees F.
  5. While eggplant is baking, add all tofu filling ingredients to a food process or blender and pulse to combine, scraping down sides as needed. You are looking for a semi-pureed mixture with bits of basil still intact. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more salt and pepper for flavor, nutritional yeast for cheesiness, and lemon juice for brightness.
  6. Pour about 1 cup marinara sauce into an 8×8 baking dish (or similar sized dish) and reserve rest of sauce for topping / serving. Set aside.
  7. Scoop generous amounts (about 3 tablespoons) of ricotta filling onto each eggplant slice or lasagna noodle and roll up. Place seam side down in the sauce-lined baking dish. Continue until all filling and noodles or eggplant strips are used up. Pour more sauce down the center of the rolls for extra flavor (see photo).
  8. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 15-23 minutes, or until sauce is bubbly and warm and the top of the rolls are very slightly browned.
  9. Serve immediately with additional vegan parmesan cheese and fresh basil. Leftovers keep for a couple of days, though best when fresh.

[1] Oliver, J. (n.d.). History of Lasagna. Retrieved July 26, 2015.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Britain lays claim to lasagne. (2003, July 15). Retrieved July 26, 2015.

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