Venison and Eggplant Lasagna

Hearty and healthy, using eggplant for pasta makes a tasty dish

What is your New Year’s resolution? For me, and many others around the world, it’s healthy habits such as exercising and eating nutritious foods.

After nearly two months of parties, holiday celebrations, and those oh so glorious holiday desserts, January is time for some clean and healthy eating. The answer to your healthy eating is just behind your freezer door: wild game!

Wild game as a protein is a great way to reduce your fat, hormone, and caloric intake. Typically, wild game has lower calories and lower fat content than most domestically raised meat. So, look no further, open your freezer, and grab a bag of your favorite wild game to get your new year started on a healthy note!

With the Louisiana winter still in full swing in January, I crave hearty foods to get me through those short winter days. Hearty meals don’t have to be filled with fats and carbs. Instead, pack those meals with healthy vegetables that can mimic those hearty carbs.

For instance, use cauliflower or quinoa instead of rice! Or zucchini and squash instead of noodles. The vegetables and seeds that I mentioned are some of the alternatives I use in my cooking when I want a cleanse. In this recipe, I utilize eggplant as a replacement for pasta sheets. It hits on all the notes: healthy, hearty, flavorful, and protein rich!

— Happy Hunting,

Recreational Chef


BOLOGNESE INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 Pounds of Ground Venison (no added fat)
  • 1 Cup of Diced Red Onion
  • 1 Cup of Diced Bell Peppers
  • 1 Cup of Diced Carrots
  • 1 Cup of Diced Celery
  • 3 Tablespoons of Minced Garlic
  • 28 Ounces of Crushed Tomatoes
  • 6 Ounces of Tomato Paste
  • 2 Cups of Stock
  • ¼ Cup of Red Wine
  • ½ Cup of Pesto
  • 2 Tablespoons of Herbs de Provence
  • 1 Tablespoon of Paprika
  • ½ Tablespoon of Red Pepper Flakes
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste
  • 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon of Sugar (optional)

BECHAMEL SAUCE INGREDIENTS:

  • ¼ Cup of Butter
  • ¼ Cup of Flour
  • 3 Cups of Milk
  • ½ Cup of Parmesan
  • ½ Teaspoon of Nutmeg
  • Zest of One Lemon
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste

LASAGNA INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 Large Eggplants
  • 2 ½ Cups of Mozzarella Cheese

PREPARATION: Serves 4-6

Bolognese

  1. Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven to medium-high heat.
  2. While the pan is heating, mince the red onion, bell peppers, carrots, celery and garlic.
  3. Just before the olive oil starts to smoke, add the minced red onion, bell peppers, carrots and celery. Season lightly with salt, pepper, and half of the herbs de provence, paprika and red pepper flakes. Cook for 3-5 minutes or until the vegetables are soft and translucent.
  4. When the vegetables are cooked, make a well in the middle of your vegetables and add your ground venison. Season lightly with salt, pepper, the remaining half of the herbs de provence, paprika and red pepper flakes, and the minced garlic. Cook the meat and vegetable mixture for about 8-10 minutes or until the meat is browned.
  5. Once the mixture is cooked, add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, stock, wine, pesto and sugar to the Dutch oven and simmer for approximately 45 minutes. The longer you simmer, the more developed the flavors will become. Taste the Bolognese after simmering for 45 minutes and add salt and pepper to taste.

Bechamel Sauce

  1. In a medium saucepan, make a roux by melting the butter over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, add the flour and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring continuously, until your roux is a golden color.
  2. Once the roux is golden, pour in the milk while whisking to prevent lumps.
  3. Bring the sauce to a low simmer and whisk until it thickens and coats the back of a spoon. This should take approximately 8-10 minutes.
  4. Remove your saucepan from the heat and stir in the parmesan, nutmeg, lemon zest, salt and pepper.

Lasagna

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. While the Bolognese is cooking, slice the eggplants, longways, ¼” thick using a mandolin for a knife. Once the eggplants are sliced, salt on both sides and let sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes. Then, blot the eggplant slices and place on a greased pan. This process will remove moisture and bitterness.
  3. Once the oven is up to temp, place the eggplant into the oven to par cook for 20 minutes, then remove from the oven and let cool.
  4. When the bolognese and bechamel are finished cooking, lay out your ingredients in an 8” by 11” baking pan.
  5. Spoon approximately 1 cup of bolognese on the bottom of the pan.
  6. Next add a layer of the eggplant slices to act as your “pasta.”
  7. Spread 1 cup of bolognese over the eggplant slices.
  8. Once your bolognese is spread over your eggplant slices, spread about ¾ of a cup of bechamel, then sprinkle ½ cup of mozzarella cheese over the bechamel.
  9. Repeat step 6 through step 8 two to three more times.
  10. For the last layer, top the eggplant slices with the remaining bechamel sauce and the remaining mozzarella cheese.
  11. Place the lasagna in the preheated oven uncovered for 30 to 40 minutes or until golden and bubbling. Let the lasagna rest for 30 minutes before serving.

Trust me, you will not miss the pasta in this lasagna recipe.