Roasted Vegetable Lasagna

You know, I lived in Italy for five months and don’t recall ever eating a gooey square of lasagna. No manicotti, no stuffed shells, no casseroles overflowing with cheese, crushed tomatoes, and ground beef. Not even a meatball. Why? Because those aren’t standard menu fare of ristorantes in Roma, in Firenze, and Napoli. Instead, you’re face planting into plates of penne dressed in pesto, plump gnocchi in garlicky cream sauce, tortellini swimming in bolognese. Most of the dishes involved no more than five, fresh from the source, ingredients.

Today, in my own kitchen, I like to respect that simplicity. Praise it, even. I daydream about my time spent in the European boot. Write a love letter to linguine, sing a song about semifreddo. In reality, I was there for no longer than half a year. Not long at all. But moving to a foreign land for any length of time is so jarring and new that I think you end up more fiercely attached to it.

I had only taken one semester of Italian before I was handing my passport over to security, boarding a flight to Florence. Sure, I’ve always had a knack for languages, but I wasn’t necessarily prepared to shoot the breeze for more than un minuto.

Twenty four hours later, I was in an apartment, taking classes on Italian cinema, art history, and eating gelato like a daily multi-vitamin. Good for heart health, I think.

When you’re forced to adapt to a new environment, to make yourself a home away from home, you do so with a passion. With more tenacity than you would moving from Boston to Brooklyn. And in the end, I learned as much, if not more, about myself as I did about the Colosseum. The week before I departed Rome, I was holding my own in arguments with the local signore at my favorite farm stand about the price of bread. I had that fingers pressed together hand wave down pat. Showed up at the Pope’s doorstep for a cup of sugar.

That time of travel and exploration is so dear to my heart. Cooking Italian food in my American home, now, feels like flashbacks from a favorite movie. No, not Titanic. Though if Leo had been in my memories of Italy, I guarantee I’d be replaying that mental video til the tape burned out. And yes, I just referenced VHS. Don’t tell me you’ve switched to DVD.

Below is a recipe for a bubbling, ooey gooey, cheesy lasagna. Well over five ingredients. It pays homage to Italy, but feels more over the top, more American in its robustness. A happy marriage of wholesome ingredients and cheese-laden decadence. I’ve loaded it with roasted vegetables, a vibrant and flavorful marinara (I’d recommend making your own but if you’re of the jarred persuasion, I recommend Rao’s brand), creamy ricotta, and fresh mozzarella. If it does nothing else for you, the smell in your kitchen will be enough to make you smile.

Roasted Vegetable Lasagna

  • 1 medium eggplant, sliced into 1/2″ thick rounds
  • 1 zucchini, sliced
  • 2 cups cremini mushrooms, chopped
  • olive oil, for brushing the vegetables
  • 4 cups of homemade marinara sauce (or 2 jars if you prefer to buy it)
  • 12 sheets of “No Boil” lasagna pasta (Barilla brand is what I used)
  • 1  15oz container of ricotta cheese (I use part skim)
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 TBSP dried oregano
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 TBSP minced fresh garlic
  • 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat the oven to 425°. Brush your vegetables on both sides with olive oil and place in a single layer on a two large baking sheets. Roast them for about 15-20 minutes, or until tender and beginning to brown. Remove to a wire rack to cool and lower the oven heat to 375°.

Grate your mozzarella. I like to buy it in big blocks and hand grate it, but you can also use a food processor.

Combine the ricotta, parmesan, egg, oregano, basil, and minced garlic in a large bowl. Mix well.

Place your marinara in a large bowl so that you can easily ladle it onto the layers.

Spread one cup of the marinara sauce into the bottom of a greased 13×9″ pan.

Next lay four sheets of lasagna noodles evenly along the bottom. Don’t worry that they do not reach the edges, they expand as they cook.

Now spread 1/3 of your ricotta mixture over the noodles.

Followed by eggplant.

Then sprinkle 1 cup mozzarella evenly over the eggplant.

Now spoon 1 cup marinara over that mozzarella layer

Then 4 more noodles. Followed by another 1/3 of the ricotta mixture.

And then the zucchini. Top this layer with another cup of mozzarella, another cup of sauce, four more noodles, the last of the ricotta, the mushrooms, the last cup of sauce, and finish with the remaining one cup of mozzarella. Let’s be honest, the layering doesn’t matter quite as much as you think. But to be clear it’s this general pattern: sauce, noodles, ricotta, veg, mozzarella. Then begin the order again with the sauce until you run out…see what I mean? The only real important thing is that you have a layer of sauce and mozzarella for the very top of the lasagna.

Cover with foil and bake for 55-60 minutes at 375°. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 5 minutes to let the cheese get nice and bubbly. Let the lasagna cool for at least 15 minutes before cutting so that it can set up and not ooze all over town.

Comments

  1. says

    Ahhh I love hearing about your past travels. I completely agree about remaining attached to places one has lived. I feel that way about numerous cities I’ve lived in.

    That lasagna looks so fantastic. I often roast veg for lasagna but usually mix it into my sauce, I love the different layers you have done. Bet it tasted awesome!

  2. says

    Thank you for sharing this post! I was in Italy for just 2 weeks in February and I loved every decadent minute of it. In fact, I spent the next couple of months looking at every angle for a permanent relocation to the famed boot. The food was just one of the many pleasures.

    Grazie for makin’ my day =)

  3. says

    Oh I just LOVE lasagna!! Your recipe looks so pretty! I don’t think I’ve ever put eggplant in lasagna before, sounds great!! I hope to go to Italy one day. It’s definitely on my bucket list!

  4. says

    I think it’s great that you pack your lasagna with veggies! It seems each family always has their own recipe when it comes to lasagna… although my mom’s was not nearly as adventurous and yummy looking (don’t tell her I said that).

  5. says

    What an experience. My favorite part of this post: “Showed up at the Pope’s doorstep for a cup of sugar.” hahaha. You always crack me up. The lasagna looks incredible! I love the added veggies (especially the eggplant). Just beautius.

  6. says

    I absolutely love lasagna, especially vegetarian ones. Yours looks so good I even in the uncoiled stages. There’s nothing better than ooey gooey cheesy lasagna, so comforting. This is the exact reason why I love reading your blog and why I left you some awards on mine. Don’t worry, no strings, rules, or obligations attached. Just take and run…heehee. Have a great day Andrea 😀

  7. says

    YUM!!!! And I could totally understand how moving to another country would be so shocking! I’m only visiting Ireland now but I can’t imagine living here. And driving?! OH wow. But I would LOVE to live here, or other places in Europe, for a bit.

  8. says

    I love that this lasagna is vegetarian and isn’t just a lame pile of noodles and cheese. Just because it doesn’t have meat, it doesn’t mean it can’t have SUBSTANCE!! Zucchini + eggplant = perfection.

    “Eating gelato like a daily multivitamin.” When in Rome :)

  9. says

    One think I’ve been dying to try making is lasagne, but its so hard being gluten free, I can’t find the noodles anywhere! This looks like perfection, I feel like it can be so hard to get the perfect, non-watery consistancy!

  10. says

    Oh, your time in Italy sounds wonderful! That’s pretty cool that you went there after taking only one semester of Italian! Way to submerse yourself in the language and culture!

    The lasagna looks scrumptious! I love that you added zucchini to it! Makes it not as heavy but more nutritious. Love all the step-by-step photos.

    I may have missed it, but have you ever posted your marinara sauce recipe? I love a good marinara sauce!

  11. says

    My husband and I were just discussing yesterday (in Florence!) what an amazing city that would have been to study abroad in. I lived in a small French town and loved it, but I think it would have been so fun to live in a city like Florence for a while– such excitement and culture!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *