Who isn’t a fan of this luscious layering of sauce and fresh pasta? Lasagna, said to have evolved from perhaps the first known pasta, is certainly beloved. Its many adaptations are a testament to its popularity as an Italian delicacy. This hearty vegetable lasagna will satisfy that layered pasta craving!
The two most well-known versions of lasagna: the Bolognese creation made with bechamel sauce, and the southern Italian version with tomato sauce, cheeses, meat, and hard-boiled eggs are both extraordinary in their own way. Traditionally, lasagna contains copious amounts of meat within its many layers of cheese and pasta, but I have adapted this recipe for a light, summer vegetarian dish. It still has that comforting lasagna flavor and aroma and is made with fresh pasta, sweet summer veggies, and savory tomato sauce.
Notes to the cook:
Feel free to use boxed, dried lasagna noodles for this recipe. If you want to make fresh pasta sheets, check out my step-by-step instructions and video for making and rolling fresh pasta. Also,YouTube offers many videos for making your own pasta. Once you learn to make and roll fresh pasta, you can make lasagna, fettuccine, ravioli, angel hair, tagliatelle, and on and on.
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Hearty Vegetable Lasagna
A fresh, light, Italian-inspired pasta recipe perfect for a summer dinner.
For the Vegetable Ragu with sofrito:
– 2 Tablespoons olive oil
– 1 – 28 oz can whole tomatoes, pureed in a blender or with a hand mixer
– 1/4 cup dry red wine
– 1/2 cup onion, diced very small
– 1/2 cup celery, finely diced
– 1/2 cup carrot, finely diced
– 2 Tablespoons chopped parsley
For the filling:
– 1 lb mushrooms, sliced and sauteed and browned to remove moisture
– 1 medium globe eggplant, diced, salted, and left to drain for 30 minutes: Place the diced eggplant in a colander over a bowl and mix in 1 tablespoon salt. Let the eggplant drain so that the liquid drains out. This will take about 30 minutes. Toward the end of the process, you can use your hands to squeeze out more of the liquid (discard liquid). The purpose of this step is to soften the eggplant, remove some of the bitterness and give it a more meaty texture. It will soften more while cooking in the lasagna.
For the layers:
– 1/2 lb (8 ounces) mozzarella, sliced or broken into small chunks
– a handful of fresh basil or oregano, roughly chopped
– salt to taste
For lasagna noodles:
– 1 lb dried lasagna pasta (12 sheets) or 1 batch homemade pasta cut into long, flat pasta noodles
– 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano
To make Vegetable Ragu with sofrito: Begin 1 hour before you want to assemble the lasagna, or ragu can be made ahead of time.
1. Heat olive oil in 4-quart saucepan and add onion, carrots, celery, and parsley and cook for 5 minutes stirring occasionally. Cook on medium heat; careful not to burn the vegetables, but you should hear them sizzle.
2. Add wine and stir. Let simmer for 2 minutes. Add tomato puree and salt. Bring to a gentle boil, reduce heat and simmer partially covered for 1 hour. Stir occasionally.
Meanwhile, if using packaged lasagne, cook according to package directions, drain and rinse in cool water to prevent the noodle from sticking together.
If making lasagne by hand:
Roll out the pasta dough into long rectangles. Cut into 11’inch strips and cook for 5 minutes in boiling water. Drain and rinse in cool water to prevent the noodles from sticking together. It is best to lay them out on a plate or cutting board to make sure they don’t stick together while you are assembling the lasagne layers.
2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Using a 13 x 9-inch baking dish, cover the bottom with a thin layer of ragu. Next, begin layering with 3 pasta sheets, then ragu, and then two spoonfuls of mushroom filling, then 2 spoonfuls diced eggplant, then a few chunks of mozzarella cheese. Continue layering until you reach the top of the baking pan and finish with a layer of ragu. Cover with a generous layer of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.
4. Cook at 375 F for 30 minutes until hot and bubbly. Remove and serve immediately.
Optional: This dish can be served cold or at room temperature. It is especially good the next day. Will keep in the fridge for up to one week. Additionally, it freezes well for up to one month.