Lasagne – Eggplant and Zucchini

Slice of Lasagne

Eggplant and Zucchini Lasagne

Adapted from Italian Classics by the editors of Cook’s Illustrated magazine
Master Recipe for Vegetable Lasagne with Tomato Sauce

2 tbsp olive oil
2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press
1 (28 oz.) can of diced tomatoes (any flavour)
1 (14 oz.) can tomato sauce
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
15 dried (7×3.5 inch) no-boil lasagne noodles
1.5 lbs. fresh zucchini
2 large eggplant (~2 lbs.)
1 lb. part skim shredded mozzarella cheese (4 cups)
1 cup finely grated Parmesan chees
various dry herbs to taste
salt and pepper to taste

Most of the parts of the lasagne can be prepared at the same time. Read through the steps to see where time can be saved. Doing all steps in order without overlap between the sections will result in a several hour prep time.

Vegetables:

Prep 2 large cookie sheets to accept the sliced vegetables. If available place a silpat on one of them since the eggplant likes to stick. Cover the bottom of your oven with a couple of overlapped sheets of aluminum foil to prevent burning during the baking. Sauce likes to pour over the edge of the pan and the foil makes for easy cleanup. Preheat the oven to 400º F.

  • Eggplant: Peel and slice into ½ inch slices. The slices can be in any direction. Based on their size they will be lining the noodles so larger is easier. Salt and pepper both sides and lightly coat with olive oil. I like to slice mine diagonally across the eggplant since I cut the green end off at an angle and don’t end up with a large round end piece. I then put all of the veggies into my largest bowl salt, pepper and oil, and toss all of it at once.
  • Zucchini: Wash and dry the zucchini. Slice into ½ inch slices and salt, pepper and olive oil the slices.

Lay out the vegetables on the two pans and roast, turning occasionally, for 30 minutes, or until they are soft and tender. No need to cook completely since they will cook some more once the lasagne is assembled. I like to make alternating layers of each vegetable instead of mixing, but anything you like will work.

Sauce:

Heat the oil and garlic in a large skillet or pot over medium heat until the garlic is fragrant but not browned, about 2 minutes. For mildly spicy sauce add some crushed red pepper flakes to the oil. Stir in the tomatoes and sauce; simmer until thickened slightly, about 10 minutes. Stir in the basil, herbs, salt and pepper to taste. On personal preference add Italian seasoning mix, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, parsley or any other preferred herbs. If the sauce thickens too much just add more water into it. It will help the noodles to cook later. There should be at least 4 cups of sauce in the end. I like sauce so I end up with 2 quarts and use it all in the lasagne, it usually drips out when baking but it’s delicious.

Noodles:

Use the no-boil noodles and follow the directions on the box to prepare them for assembly. Soak them in very hot water, they will take about 10 minutes to soften and swell up enough for assembly. They feel like soft leather when ready, pliable but firm in the center. When purchasing noodles do not shake the box, but slowly roll from one end to the other to check if there are any small pieces broken off. If you shake, the risk of breaking them is higher. Broken noodles can still be used, just make sure to use enough noodles to cover the entire pan.

Cheese:

Grate both cheeses and keep them separated. If you have other favorite cheeses feel free to substitute. Keep the saltiness and melting level of the cheese in mind when substituting. Smoked mozzarella, Gruyere, or fontina can be substituted for the mozzarella and Pecorino Romano for the Parmesan.

When all of the individual ingredients are ready create an assembly line on your counter in the following order: noodles, vegetables, sauce, mozzarella, Parmesan.

Spread ½ cup sauce evenly over the bottom of a 9×13 inch lasagne pan. Lay three noodles crosswise over the sauce, making sure they do not touch each other or the sides of the pan. Spread a layer of vegetables evenly over the noodles, a ladle or two (~¾  cup) sauce evenly over the vegetables, and a handful (~¾ cup) mozzarella and 2 generous tablespoons of Parmesan evenly over the sauce. Repeat the layering of the noodles, vegetables, sauce and cheeses three more times. For the firth and final layer, lay the final three noodles over the previous layer and top with the remaining 1 cup tomato sauce, 1 cup mozzarella, and 2 tablespoons Parmesan. (Lasane can be wrapped with plastic and refrigerated overnight or wrapped in plastic and aluminum foil and frozen for up to 1 month. If frozen, defrost in refrigerator overnight.)

Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 375º F. Make sure to cover the bottom of the oven to prevent a mess, you can use a large piece of foil or two. Cover the pan with a large sheet of aluminum foil tented so it doesn’t touch the top layer of cheese. Bake 25 minutes (30 minutes if chilled); remove the foil and continue baking until the top turns golden brown in spots, about 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and rest 5 minutes. Cut and serve immediately.

Pan of Lasagne

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About majathebee
When planning dinner, my first idea is dessert.

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