Luxembourg City, Luxembourg
I’ve been enjoying my time in Luxembourg City where the Man and I have been helping a friend with her move. After a few hectic days I’ve finally had some time to cook. The apartment where we’re staying is completely blue – I guess the Italian couple that owns the place is keen on supporting la Forza Azzura in new and interesting ways.
I’ve been a little obsessed with vegetarian lasagna since my friend Reta made me one when I went to visit her. I thought it would be complicated but it turns out I was wrong – it’s a little time consuming but super easy to make. Since Reta didn’t sent me her delicious recipe (shame on you Reta!) I had to improvise. Mine is a little different, I only use tomato sauce whereas Reta also added a creamy roux. This recipe is a second, and I think better, version of the vegetable lasagna I made when Thomas was in Paris a month ago.
The recipe should make enough for about 6 – 8 servings. I used an oval oven-proof dish that was about 35 cm x 24 cm (about 14″ x 9.5″) but use a rectangular dish if you have one – much easier come assembly time.
For tomato sauce
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 medium yellow onion
- 400gr/14oz canned tomatoes (1 medium sized can)
- 200gr/7oz strained crushed tomatoes (passata)
- 70gr/2.5oz tomato concentrate (1 small can)
- 2-3 tsp dried basil
- 2-3 tsp dried oregano
- Fresh ground pepper
- A little olive oil to coat the dish
- 1 box lasagna sheets (I used pasta that didn’t require pre-cooking and it worked fine, but – if you’re a sucker for punishment like mom – the pre-cook kind are fine too)
- 3 medium eggplants
- 2 large zucchini/courgettes
- 250gr/9oz ricotta
- 250gr/9oz mozzarella (2 medium balls if using fresh)
Start by making the tomato sauce. You can do it ahead of time if you want to be an A+ student.
Gently start warming a tbsp of olive oil in a medium pot.
Peel the garlic cloves and chop finely. Chop the onions, cry your eyes out and beg the closest available person for help.
Add the onions (hopefully you’ve stopped crying by now) and sauté until they are sweaty and soft. Then add the garlic and cook until fragrant – only about a minute or so.
Add the canned tomatoes, passata and tomato concentrate. Stir well. Add the basil, oregano, salt and pepper and let simmer gently covered for an hour. Set aside.
Preheat your oven to 200°C/390°F.
Slice the eggplant and zucchini lengthwise into slices about 1 cm thick (a little more than a 3rd of an inch). Use a mandolin if you have one – but watch your fingers!
Tip: if slicing by hand, cut one lengthwise slice from the vegetable and flip it onto its newly “flat” side. Then slice start slicing lengthwise again. The eggplant/zucchini will be more stable and easier to cut!
Set the zucchini aside and take out a large non-stick pan for the eggplant. Fry each slice of eggplant until it becomes soft and a little golden. Set eggplant aside. Zucchini cooks faster so it doesn’t need any pre-cooking.
Get your dish out and lightly grease with a little olive oil. Get the ricotta, mozzarella & lasagna pasta sheets – it’s time to assemble this bad boy. (Note: if you are using pre-cook pasta you should have it cooked and ready to go before starting)
I haven’t fully mastered the art of layering and I don’t know if there is a “best” way. I say just start layering and see what work for you. However, make sure you:
- Have 2 layers of ricotta
- Have 3 layers of tomato sauce
- Have 3 layers of pasta
- End with a layer tomato sauce that you cover with mozzarella (shredded or sliced – your call)
Here are some pics of the Man expertly putting together the lasagna:
Tip: the ricotta is easiest to spread on an eggplant layer.
Tip: If you’re in a rush you can use store-bought sauce. I’ve done it before but honestly I think homemade is better if you have time.
Tip: cut the zucchini slices in half if they are long – it will make them easier to position.
Tip: Split the lasagna sheets to fit better in the dish.
Tip: Really cover the pasta well at the end. I missed some spots and these tended to blacken (read: burn) when cooked.
Place the lasagna in the oven and cook for 30 – 40 minutes. If you can, avoid having the grill on as it can overcook/burn the mozzarella. Keep an eye on it and cover with aluminium foil if it cooks too fast. You’ll know the lasagna is cooked when a knife can go through without any major resistance. I like my courgette a little firm but if you prefer yours soft then cook a little longer or until the knife goes in sans problème.
Tagged: Basil, cheese, courgette, eggplant, Garlic, Italian, lasagna, Mozzarella, Onion, oregano, pasta, Ricotta, Tomato, Tomato sauce, vegetable lasagna, Vegetables, vegetarian, vegetarian lasagna, zucchini