Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Pasticho de Berenjenas: Venezuelan Eggplant Lasagna Recipe



I have been asked by the California Milk Advisory Board to make a recipe showcasing their fresh products and as you know me, I love cooking and dairy is my favorite food type so I did say yes without a doubt! The first recipe that came to my mind was Pasticho de Berenjenas or  Venezuelan Style Eggplant Lasagna. I love this recipe, not only because it was the first recipe that make me like eggplants when I was a child, but also because it is very low in carbohydrates! And off course it has a lot of cheese and milk!!

This recipe is for about 8 to 10 portions and it is ideal for family gatherings like graduations, birthdays, etc. or if you like it, you can cook the whole thing and have some left overs for the next day. I am a true believer that some dishes taste better the next day - this one certainly does!

I hope you like this recipe as much as I do.

Ingredients (serves 8):


  • 350gr of ground beef (you can also use Turkey but I prefer beef)
  • 2 medium eggplants
  • 2/3 cup of finely chopped onions
  • 1 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup of grated Real California Milk mozzarella cheese (You can use more if you like)
  • 1 cup of finely grated Real California Milk Parmesan (You can use more if you like)
  • 3 cups of Milk
  • 4 tsp of chicken bouillon
  • 4 tbsp corn starch
  • 1/4 tsp salt and more for sprinkling over eggplants
  • 2 tsp of Worcester Sauce
  • 1 tbsp ketchup
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 3 tbsp of chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4- 1/2 pound of sliced ham or turkey (I used turkey) 
  • Black pepper to taste

Preparation:

This dish is basically made by layering eggplants, 2 sauces (a red and a white), cheese and ham into a lasagna. It is very simple but takes a little preparation to make all the individual pieces before the assembly!

Eggplant: Eggplants can be bitter if not prepped properly. In order to reduced the bitterness we need to sweat the eggplants. With a sharp knife cut the eggplants longways into thin slices (about 1/8 of an inch).



Place the slices on top of a clean paper towel, sprinkle with a bit of salt, put another layer of eggplant slices, cover with salt until done.



Cover all the eggplants with another paper towel and place a heavy object like a chopping board or a pan. Leave until eggplants are needed.

This is how they look after a few minutes - notice the paper towels are wet.


Pre heat your oven at 375F

Red Sauce: Your red sauce is a meat sauce similar to a carbonara. In a pan, put the butter and the onions and let them cook until browned a little.



Take about a third of the onions out of the pan and reserve.  Add the beef and garlic to the onions in the pan and cook until meat is browned.



Add the can tomatoes and the spices (2 tsp bouillon, cumin, Worcester sauce, bay leaf, ketchup). Cook at medium heat for about 5 to 10 minutes, stirring every so often ( while waiting cook the white sauce).



Add the fresh herbs, stir and turn the heating off. This sauce should not be runny.




White sauce: The white sauce is similar to a b├ęchamel. Start with the fried onions you kept aside from the red sauce, put then on pan.



Add the 3 cups of milk, 1/4 tsp salt and 2 tsp of bouillon. Cook at low heat for a about 2 minutes, stirring constantly.



In a container, put the 4 tbsp of corn starch, take a cup of the warm milk and mix it in with a whisker. It will get thicker.



Pour the milk/corn starch mixture into the pan and stir until it thickens. Add pepper to taste. Remove from heat.



Layering the dish: Use a Pyrex rectangular dish. Mix the cheeses together and set aside.



Pour a little of the white sauce and spread evenly at the bottom of the pan.



Put a layer of eggplants, then another thin layer of white sauce.




Cover with a thin layer of red sauce.



Cover with a layer of cheese.



Then put a layer of ham/turkey and start all over again with a layer of eggplant.




Repeat the process, reserving enough eggplants, white sauce and cheese for the last layer. The last layer should be eggplant, enough white sauce to cover the whole thing and cheese.




Put the dish in the 375F oven for 30 minutes. Raise the oven temperature to 400F and cook for another 30 minutes. 

Your dish is ready and should be piping hot!!




Enjoy it!!

This dish was very special as I used 2 Real California Milk Cheeses. You can tell they are Real California by looking at the seal on the label.



I did nor know this, but California is the country’s leading producer of Hispanic dairy products and the #1 dairy state in USA.



Many California dairy products are sold nationally - I found mine on my regular grocery store on the cheese counter. What I like about them, is not only the superior taste but also the fact that 99% of California dairies are family-owned.  


If you want to learn more about Real California Milk - just follow them in Facebook.

Disclosure: This is a compensated post in collaboration with California Milk Advisory Board and Latina Bloggers Connect. All facts and recipes are my own.
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