Lasagne is a labor of love for me. If I am making you lasagne you are someone special. It does take some time to prepare however, for a special person it's so worth it. This lasagne was lovingly prepared for my dear friends Mary Ann and Gina who I hadn't seen in ages.
When I make lasagne often I prepare 2 and freeze one for a later date. You can roast the vegetables in the oven or grill them if you prefer. There are lots of components but, of course you can buy the noodles and sauce and get the cheese already shredded to speed up the steps.
But, if you want something really special make it all from scratch!
You will need:
- 1 eggplant
- 1-2 zucchini (depending on size if they are small get 2)
- 1 red pepper
- 1 orange pepper (you could also use roasted peppers in a jar)
- 1 tbsp Italian Seasoning
- 3-4 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cups chopped mushrooms
- 1 onion
- 4 cloves garlic
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme
- 1 796ml can of crushed tomatoes
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
- 2 cloves crushed garlic
- 1 small container ricotta
- 1 small bag fresh spinach cooked -squeezed dry and chopped
- 2 green onions
- 1/2 tsp fresh nutmeg
- 1 clove crushed garlic
- 3 tbsp butter
- 3 tbsp flour
- 2 cups milk (more if necessary)
- 1/2 tsp fresh nutmeg
- 1/4 cup grated fresh Parmesano Reggiano
- 3 large eggs
- 2 cups flour
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
grated mozzarella and Parmesan cheese for topping approx 1/2 cup (more if you like)
Step 1: slice eggplant, zucchini and peppers so they are almost the same size. Toss with salt, pepper, olive oil, Italian Seasoning and roast in 400 degree F oven for 15 minutes, then flip and continue another 15-20 minutes until they are browned and cooked. Place peppers in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap for 10 minutes to loosen skin, then peel off. Set aside.
Step 2: slice onion and saute in olive oil on medium heat until starting to brown and carmelize. Approx 10 minutes.
Step 3: chop mushrooms and add to the partially cooked onions. Add chopped garlic, fennel seeds fresh thyme and butter. Continue to cook on medium heat until mushrooms are browned slightly. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Step 4: add fresh basil,parsley and a can of crushed tomatoes to a blender. Add salt, pepper and garlic. Blend until smooth. Set aside.
Step 5: drain the ricotta for at least 1 hour. Cook the spinach in a cup of water until wilted (takes 4-5 minutes) drain and squeeze until most of the water is removed. I squeeze in my hands then use a paper towel and squeeze out almost all liquid. Chop spinach and green onions and add to drained ricotta. Add an egg, salt, pepper and a bit of fresh nutmeg (not too much) and mix. Set aside.
Step 6: Add all ingredients for pasta to food processor and blend until it forms a stiff dough.(1 minute approx) Gather all dough and wrap in plastic and set aside at least 30 minutes before rolling out pasta.
Step 7: prepare Bechamel by melting butter, then adding flour and cooking for at least 1-2 minutes while stiring. Add milk and allow to thicken by cooking 2 more minutes. If it is too thick you can add a bit more milk (1/4 cup) Add cheese and grated nutmeg and set aside once it is a thick smooth sauce.
Step 8: prepare lasagne sheets by cutting dough into 8 pieces and running it through a pasta roller from large to small. I like my noodles to be thinner rather than the thick kind you can buy in the grocery store. I think it makes a silky gorgeous noodle in the lasagne and people always comment on how different it tastes. While you are rolling out all 8 pieces I keep the finished ones on a floured tea towel. They will dry out a bit which is fine. I also cut them in half for easier management.
Step 9: I boil water with olive oil in it (this is the only time I would ever put oil in the water because I don't want them to stick together and I need to boil all the noodles before assembling the lasagne. I cook each noodle for 1 minute (no more)
Once they come out of the water I place them on a heavily oiled cookie sheet and continue to add oil to each noodle and continue to stack until all noodles are partially cooked. They can cool this way and they will not stick together.
Now to assemble the lasagene! There are lots of pictures to show you different layers. You want sauce on each side of the noodles but, you don't need to use lots. I normally make a meat lasagne with 2 layers maybe 3 tops but, this one is jam packed full of vegetables and lots of flavour.
start with sauce on the bottom
lasagne noodle -it doesn't have to fit perfectly or of course you can always use a square pan.
bit of sauce
a bit of bechamel and sauce
a bit of mozzarella
lasagne noodle, then ricotta and a bit of sauce
mushroom layer, with some sauce and cheese
another noodle, peppers sliced and skin removed,zucchini, sauce
another noodle, sauce, bechamel and some cheese to top. You can also sprinkle a bit of parsley
Bake covered (with a piece of foil loosely tented to avoid sticking to the cheese) 30 minutes and 30 minutes uncovered in a 350 degrees oven (watch it so that it gets as browned as you like) Everything is basically already cooked you are just heating through and melting the topping.
Wait 10 minutes before cutting. Enjoy a giant piece with a nice glass of wine and some good bread. You will be amazed at how good all those veggies taste. You can make easily change this recipe to add the vegetables you love the best.