Fruits not fruits

Veggie Lasagna the Great

Vegetable lasagnaYou know how sometimes someone says I made brownies!…but then they have walnuts?  Or they made cookies!…but they’re oatmeal raisin?  I think it’s kind of like that if I say “Tonight’s lasagna…and it’s vegetarian!”

Unless you are a vegetarian, I think it’s hard to get really jazzed about the vegetarian version of something.  Especially something so iconically meat and gooey cheesy as lasagna.

But, friends, let me tell you:  be brave.  Be bold.  This veggie lasagna is amazing.  It’s not good “for a vegetarian recipe.”  It’s just good.  I make this instead of normal lasagna.  I sneak bites of it as I’m packing up the leftovers.  I am fully a convert.So much summer squash

The main meat to this dish (get it? ha!) is a variety of vegetables-that-are-actually-fruits:  eggplant, zucchini (I also use yellow summer squash), and tomatoes.  They are layered with the usual lasagna noodles and ricotta sauce.  If you’re super snobby about your lasagna and refuse to use ricotta, use whatever béchamel white sauce floats your boat.  The only really odd thing about this recipe is that there is no tomato sauce.  The tomatoes in it end up becoming the sauce.

Fresh tomatoesThe only major drawback to this recipe is that it is very time consuming.  You have to cut and roast all the vegetables ahead of time, for 40 minutes.  I can just squeeze three roasting pans into my oven and do it all at once.  If you have to stage the vegetable roasting it takes forever.  Fortunately, this makes a huge amount of lasagna.  But be warned this is not quick weeknight cooking.

Veggie Lasagna the Great

Adapted, only slightly, from Roasted Vegetable Lasagna from Joy of Cooking: All About Vegetarian Cooking.  8-10 generous servings.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  Lightly oil a 13x9x3 inch baking dish.

Preparing the vegetable filling

Wash and cut:

  • 2 large eggplants (about 2-3 lbs), quartered and cut into 1/2 inch thick slices
  • 6 medium zucchini (or a mixture of any summer squash up to 2-3 lbs), cut into 1/2 inch thick slices

Note:  3 lbs of eggplant and squash will probably leave you with extra filling.  2 lbs may cut it a little close.

Pour over the vegetables:

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Toss to coat vegetables in oil and seasonings.  Fill large roasting pans or cookie sheets (not the lasagna dish you oiled earlier) with the vegetables.  You can line them with aluminum foil to prevent sticking.

Also wash and cut:

  • 3 lbs tomatoes, halved crosswise

Lay the tomatoes in a roasting pan (or the same pans if you have space) cut-side up.  Drizzle with

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Generous amounts of salt and pepper

If you have space in your oven, roast all vegetables together for 40 minutes.  Mix and toss the squash and zucchini at the 20 minute mark.  If you do not have space, roast the vegetables one after the other.  When done (tomatoes will be soft, squash will be browned), put all the vegetables into a large bowl, including any juices or oil.

(The vegetable filling can be made ahead and used the next day if stored in the refrigerator.)

Other Layers

Reduce over to 375 degrees F.  Set a large pot of water to boil on the stove and prepare as per package directions

  • 1 lb lasagna noodles

Stir in a medium bowl:

  • 1 lb ricotta cheese
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Ground black pepper to taste

Also have ready

  • 1 lb shredded mozzarella cheese (it’s extra awesome if fresh)

Assembly

Arrange a layer of noodles in the bottom of your 13×9 dish.  Spread with 1/3 of the ricotta filling.  Sprinkle 1/4 of the mozzarella over the ricotta, along with

  • 2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese
  • Black pepper to taste

Then spoon 1/3 roasted vegetables on top.  Then noodles again.  The order is:

  1. Noodles
  2. 1/3 ricotta
  3. 1/4 mozzarella
  4. 2 Tbsp Parmesan + pepper
  5. Veggies

In the end you will have 4 layers of pasta and 3 layers of filling.  Sprinkle the top with the last 1/4 of the mozzarella along with

  • 2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs (optional)

Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Uncover and bake for an additional 15 minutes, until golden and bubbling.  Let stand for 15 minutes before serving.

The ingredient list all in one place:

  • 2 large eggplants (about 2-3 lbs)
  • 6 medium zucchini (or a mixture of any summer squash up to 2-3 lbs)
  • 3 lbs tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb lasagna noodles
  • 1 lb ricotta cheese
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 lb shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs (optional)

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