Crab & Eggplant Lasagna

"In this no-pasta lasagna, eggplant slices are marinated in herb oil, then coated in flour and fried until golden brown," says chef Georgeann Leaming of The Casa di Napoli restaurant in the Showboat Casino, Atlantic City. "Sandwiched with a creamy crabmeat filling and topped with a crumb crust flavored with sun-dried tomatoes, the slices are baked to yield a dish that combines textures, flavors, and colors."

This recipe comes from the brand-new book, THE SEVEN STARS COOKBOOK: Recipes From World-Class Casino Restaurants (Chronicle Books, $45). Note: All the casinos in the book belong to the Harrah’s Entertainment Group.

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

HERB OIL

1 cup olive oil

¼ cup fresh whole basil leaves

¼ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Eight ¼-inch-thick globe eggplant slices

SUN-DRIED TOMATO CRUST

2 cups fresh bread crumbs

½ cup julienned oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes

2 tablespoons minced fresh basil

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

CRAB FILLING

1 pound fresh lump crabmeat, picked over for shell

1 tablespoon finely diced red bell pepper

1 tablespoon finely diced onion

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 cup mayonnaise

½ cup fresh bread crumbs

Olive oil for sautéing

All-purpose flour for dredging

Balsamic glaze (see notes)

Preparation:

For the herb oil: Combine all the ingredients in a blender and purée until smooth.

Pour half of the herb oil into a large baking dish and add the eggplant slices. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes, turning the slices halfway through. Remove from the marinade and shake off the excess.

For the crust: Combine the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Set aside.

For the filling: In a large bowl, combine the ingredients; stir to blend and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

In a large sauté pan or skillet, heat ¼ inch oil over medium-high heat until shimmering.

Dredge 2 eggplant slices in the flour, shaking off the excess.

Add to the pan and sauté until golden brown, about 5 minutes on each side.

Using a slotted metal spatula, transfer to paper towels to drain.

Repeat with the remaining slices.

Put 4 eggplant slices on a baking sheet and spread each slice with one-fourth of the crab filling.

Top with the remaining egg-plant slices.

Spread about ¼ cup of the sun-dried tomato mixture on each top slice.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the crusts are browned and the filling is hot.

To serve, place the lasagnas on a platter and drizzle with some of the remaining herb oil and the balsamic glaze.

Balsamic glaze: In a small, heavy saucepan, bring 1 cup balsamic vinegar to a simmer over medium heat and cook until reduced to a syrup. remove from the heat, let cool, and transfer to a squeeze bottle.

Note: Balsamic glaze is also available in specialty foods markets.

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