Spring has come around, so I’m getting excited for delicious sun-ripened vegetables! Seems like the perfect moment to post this vegetable lasagna, which I found as an external post on Jamie Oliver’s website and then tweaked it a bit. Basically, this is a really rich (but healthy!) lasagna using 4 different vegetables. It takes a while to make this lasagna (about two hours), but it’s really worth the wait. It’s a vegetarian-safe dish but I’ve served it to several carnivores and they all agreed, it doesn’t need meat at all!
This amount is good for 5-6 servings.
2 large eggplants, cut into 1 cm-thick slices
2 medium zucchini, cut into 1 cm-thick slices
3 red or yellow peppers
9 sheets of lasagna (depending on the size of your baking pan, you need 3 layers of lasagna)
250-300 grams of ricotta cheese
400 grams of fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into small cubes or slices
150 grams of grated parmesan cheese
2 egg yolks
a handful of basil, leaves torn
a handful of chopped parsley leaves
500 ml of good tomato sauce or your own fresh tomato sauce (fry some oil with garlic, add tomatoes, perhaps a bit of white wine or extra passata and let it simmer for a while, season to taste with Italian herbs and salt and pepper)
Heat the grill/broiler function on the oven. Lay the eggplant slices in a colander and sprinkle on both sides with salt, let them stand for about half an hour and then squeeze as much liquid out of them as possible, then pat dry with paper towels. Lay them on a wire rack, brush both sides slightly with oil, sprinkle with pepper and salt and grill them on both sides until tinted (not brown) and soft. If your oven is small, you may need to repeat this a few times.
While the oven is hot and you’re waiting for the eggplant, you can start with the peppers. Cut the peppers into large flat pieces (two or three parts per pepper) and remove the seeds and inner parts. Lay them on a wire rack and grill until they have black ‘boils’, then put them in a plastic freezer bag and let them steam so the skin will come off more easily. Peel off the skin when cooled (watch out, they’re hot). If you have a really thin peeler, you can try peeling the skin off this way.
Steam the zucchini slices for a few minutes until tender but with enough bite left. The way I do this is by putting a ‘pasta colander pan’ into a fitting pan with a little bit of boiling water on the bottom. You can also use a steamer if you have one, or just add a little bit of boiling water in a regular pan and blanch the zucchini shortly.
Cook the lasagna sheets shortly in salted water if this is indicated on the package and let it drain (the best quality Italian lasagna has to be cooked beforehand).
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsuis (about 350 Fahrenheit). Mix the ricotta, mozzarella and half of the parmezan with the fresh herbs, season to taste with salt and pepper.
Brush the sides of a 25 x 25 cm baking pan (or one about the same size, around 625 square cm) with olive oil and add about 1/4 of the tomato sauce. Arrange the eggplant slices on top of this layer.
Now add 1/3 of the cheese mixture and top with lasagna sheets.
Add another layer of tomato sauce.
Now top with the zucchini slices.
Repeat with the cheese and the pasta. Add another layer of tomato sauce.
Now top with the peppers.
Repeat the process again, using up all the cheese mixture. Top the last lasagna with the remaining tomato sauce and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
Top the baking pan with tin foil to prevent burning. Put the dish into the oven and let it bake for 55 minutes, then remove the tin foil and let it bake for 5 more minutes. Take it out of the oven, let it cool for a little bit and enjoy!