Common Causes of Watery Eggplant Lasagna
There are a few common reasons why eggplant lasagna can turn out watery:
Excess Moisture in the Eggplant
Eggplant is naturally a very moist vegetable. It contains a lot of water. If the eggplant is not drained properly before making the lasagna, all that extra moisture can seep out during baking, making the lasagna watery.
To avoid this, it’s important to salt and drain the eggplant before using it in lasagna. Sprinkling salt on the eggplant slices and letting them sit for 30-60 minutes will draw out any bitterness and excess moisture. Be sure to pat the eggplant slices dry with paper towels before assembling the lasagna.
Too Much Sauce
Using too much sauce between the layers of lasagna is another common culprit for watery lasagna. The moisture from the sauce has nowhere to evaporate to and makes the layers soggy.
When making eggplant lasagna, it’s best to use just enough sauce to coat each layer without drowning it. About 1/4 cup of sauce per layer is usually sufficient. Excess sauce will just make the lasagna mushy.
Not Enough Time to Set
Eggplant lasagna needs sufficient time after baking for the ingredients to firm up and set. If you cut into the lasagna too soon after taking it out of the oven, the layers will not have had enough time to set and may still be runny.
Allow the lasagna to rest for at least 15-20 minutes before cutting into it. The extra time allows the cheeses to solidify and the veggie layers to absorb excess moisture. Skipping this resting time can definitely lead to a watery slice of lasagna.
Undercooking the Noodles
Lasagna noodles need to be properly cooked through or they can throw off too much moisture into the lasagna layers while baking. Undercooked noodles won’t hold their shape and can make the lasagna soggy.
Make sure to boil the lasagna noodles until they are al dente before assembling the lasagna. They should be pliable enough to roll around a filling but firm enough to hold their shape. Undercooking the pasta is an easy way to end up with mushy lasagna.
Using Low-Moisture Mozzarella
The type of cheese used in lasagna can also impact the moisture content. Low-moisture mozzarella contains less whey than traditional fresh mozzarella. The less moist cheese helps prevent soggy lasagna layers.
If your eggplant lasagna keeps turning out watery, try swapping the mozzarella for a drier, low-moisture variety. The decreased moisture in the cheese will help offset the natural moisture of the eggplant.
How to Fix Watery Eggplant Lasagna
If your eggplant lasagna still ends up too wet and mushy, there are a few tricks to help fix it:
Drain the Excess Liquid
After baking the lasagna, drain off any excess liquid that has pooled on top. Gently press on the lasagna with a paper towel to soak up extra moisture from the top layer. Removing this liquid will help prevent soggy lasagna slices.
Let it Rest Longer
Be patient and allow the lasagna to rest for at least 30 minutes before cutting into it. The extra sitting time allows the moisture to re-absorb back into the dish instead of seeping out when you cut into it.
Uncover the lasagna for the last 15 minutes of baking time. This allows any excess moisture to evaporate. Covering the whole time steams the lasagna and prevents moisture from escaping.
Sprinkle some dried breadcrumbs on top of the assembled lasagna before baking. The crumbs will soak up and retain some of the moisture that would otherwise make the dish wet.
Cut Back on Sauce
Use an even lighter hand when layering the sauce next time. Less sauce makes for less opportunity for excess moisture.
Cook Noodles Al Dente
Overcooking lasagna noodles can cause them to swell and throw off starchy moisture into the dish. Cook them just until pliable but not mushy.
Tips to Prevent Watery Eggplant Lasagna
With a few simple precautions, you can help prevent watery eggplant lasagna in the future:
Salt and Drain Eggplant
Always salt and drain sliced eggplant before use to remove excess moisture that can seep into the dish.
Undercook Noodles Slightly
Boil noodles only until pliable enough to roll around filling. They should have a very slight bite left in the center.
Use Low-Moisture Mozzarella
Choose a drier mozzarella rather than fresh for less moisture in the cheese layers.
Spread Sauce Thinly
Use sauce sparingly between layers, just enough to coat each one. Too much sauce adds unnecessary moisture.
Let Sit Before Serving
Allow baked lasagna to rest at least 20 minutes before slicing to allow ingredients to set up.
Bake Uncovered at End
Remove foil or lid for last 15 minutes of baking so moisture can evaporate.
Blot Excess Moisture
Gently press paper towels on top of lasagna after baking to soak up any pooled liquid.
Ideal Eggplant Lasagna Ingredients
Here are some of the best ingredients to use for eggplant lasagna:
Choose firm, fresh eggplants with smooth, shiny skin. The eggplant should be heavy for its size.
For best moisture control, use low-moisture whole milk or part-skim mozzarella. Grated parmesan also adds flavor.
Select good quality lasagna noodles made with wheat flour, not watery no-boil types. Cook until al dente.
Make your own sauce, or use a high-quality jarred marinara. Don’t overload the lasagna with sauce.
Flavor layers with fresh parsley, basil, oregano. Add garlic, salt, pepper.
Part-skim ricotta adds creamy texture without watering down the dish. Whole milk is too wet.
If adding meat, saute ground beef or Italian sausage first to remove excess fat.
Eggplant Lasagna Bake Time and Temperature
Proper baking is key to perfectly cooked lasagna without excess moisture. Follow these guidelines:
Preheat oven to 375°F. This moderate temperature prevents overcooking.
Use a 9×13 inch glass or ceramic baking dish for best heat distribution.
Lightly coat baking dish with nonstick spray or thin layer of sauce for easy removal after baking.
Cover tightly with foil for first 30-40 minutes, then uncover for last 15-20 minutes.
Total Bake Time
Check lasagna after 45 minutes, then continue baking uncovered in 15 minute intervals until bubbly. Total time is usually 55-70 minutes.
Let lasagna stand 20 minutes before cutting to allow juices redistribute and layers to set.
Check center with instant read thermometer for 160°F when done.
Serving and Storing Leftover Eggplant Lasagna
Leftover lasagna keeps well for several days. Here are some serving tips:
Cut lasagna into square portions for clean slicing through the layers.
First Day Storage
Let cool completely, then cover baking dish tightly and refrigerate.
Long Term Storage
For longer storage, wrap cooled portions individually in plastic wrap then foil. Freeze up to 2-3 months.
Thaw frozen portions in fridge overnight. Reheat gently covered in 350°F oven until hot in center.
Consume leftovers within 3-4 days. Reheat to 165°F. Throw out lasagna if moldy or smells bad.
Common Eggplant Lasagna Problems
Avoid these common eggplant lasagna mishaps:
Watery and Soggy
Drain eggplant well, allow to rest before cutting, use moderate sauce, low-moisture cheese.
Bake at moderate temperature until steaming hot and center reaches 160°F.
Watch time carefully, check center temp, keep foil on to prevent burning top.
Allow lasagna to rest before cutting, assemble carefully with just enough sauce.
Add herbs, spices, garlic, seasonings for fuller flavor. Use quality ingredients.
Cool completely before slicing, use sharp knife to cut clean portions.
Eggplant Lasagna Recipe Variations
There are many tasty ways to vary eggplant lasagna:
Add layers of sautéed spinach, zucchini, mushrooms, carrots.
Cook crumbled Italian sausage to mix into the ricotta.
Use shredded cooked chicken in place of sausage.
Cook ground beef with onions, garlic, herbs for hearty meat sauce.
Omit tomato sauce and use béchamel instead for creamy white lasagna.
Add extra cheese layers like parmesan, romano, fontina.
Eggplant lasagna is a delicious vegetarian main dish, but can easily turn out watery if not made properly. Draining the eggplant well, controlling sauce amounts, baking uncovered, and letting the lasagna rest before serving are all keys to ensuring a perfectly moist yet firm texture. Follow the recipe tips provided to prevent and troubleshoot excessive moisture. With the right ingredients and technqiue, you’ll be enjoying fork-tender layers of colorful veggie goodness in every slice. Let your creative side run wild experimenting with fun new ingredient variations too. Mastering eggplant lasagna may take some trial and error, but the end result of getting it just right is well worth the effort.