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Veal, Eggplant & Parmesan Lasagna Boats

Serves 6

3 medium to large eggplants
Salt, pepper and olive oil, to taste
1 lb (500 g) ground veal
1 tsp (5 mL) ground fennel seeds
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup (32 g) fresh parsley, finely chopped
6-8 leaves basil, torn
½ cup (125 mL) red wine
1-28 ounce (796 mL) can San Marzano tomatoes
1 cup (128 g) parmigiano reggiano
½ cup (64 g) ricotta
1 cup (128 g) mozzarella, shredded

Pre-heat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Halve the eggplants and using a pairing knife cut 3 lines into the eggplants without piercing the skin. Place the eggplants cut side up. Season with salt, pepper and olive oil. Flip the eggplants cut side down and cook for about 15-20 minutes or until the inside has softened.

In the meantime, in a large sauté pan, warm olive oil (1-2 tbsp or 15 – 30 mL) on medium high heat and add the ground veal. Break up the veal using a wooden spoon, season with ground fennel seeds, salt and pepper. Allow the ground veal to brown, then add the onions and the garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Add in the parsley and basil. Deglaze the pan with red wine and allow it to cook out. Add the San Marzano tomatoes and cook for 15-20 minutes or until the sauce has reduced to a nice thick consistency. Check for proper seasoning then turn off the heat and reserve.

Remove the eggplants from the oven, allow them to cool until you can handle them. Scoop out the inside of the eggplant using a spoon and add into the veal and tomato mixture.

Transfer the eggplant shells into a baking dish, fill them with the veal and tomato mixture and top with grated parmigiano reggiano, a dollop of ricotta and shredded mozzarella cheese.

In a 400°F (204°C) oven place the Veal, Eggplant and Parmesan Lasagna Boats into the oven and cook for about 10-15 minutes or until the cheese has melted. I also like to broil then for a minute or two just to get that extra browning on the cheese (optional).

Source: Chef Vanessa Gianfrancesco (Cooking with V)

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