My most daring feat as a cook so far was to subscribe to a CSA box back in 2011. Each Tuesday for 22 weeks, I faced an epic encounter with massive amounts of sustainably-grown veggies -- and I was pregnant for the third time. That summer I must have made truckloads of vegetarian lasagnas like this one, with grilled zucchini and Italian eggplants. Even if the recipe looks long, it doesn’t take much time, and you can do your preparation ahead of time. —Feed Me Dearly
Test Kitchen Notes
WHO: Feed Me Dearly’s favorite cooking technique is grilling, which makes this recipe particularly appropriate. (FYI: Her least favorite is poaching.)
WHAT: Lasagna gets suited for summertime with the help of the market's bounty.
HOW: Grill zucchini and eggplant until striped and charred. Layer the vegetables with homemade tomato sauce, noodles, and three types of cheese, then bake in the oven until hot and bubbling.
WHY WE LOVE IT: We love summer vegetables, but there are only so many times per week that we can eat them straight off the grill with only salt and pepper. This vegetarian lasagna adds new substance to the omnipresent zucchini and eggplant, transforming them into a dinner hearty enough to satisfy a crowd, yet fresh enough to eat with summer watermelon. —The Editors
For the sauce
yellow onion, diced
large carrot, diced
canned whole tomatoes
canned tomato purée
Freshly ground pepper
For the lasagna
4 to 6 tablespoons
3 to 4
medium zucchini, sliced 1/3 inch thick (they’ll shrink when cooked)
Italian eggplants, sliced 1/3 inch thick
no-boil or oven-ready lasagna noodles
goat cheese (I love the Vermont Creamery brand)
fresh mozzarella, sliced (you should have enough slices to cover the whole top of the lasagna)
To make the sauce: Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven on medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmering, add onions and carrots. Sautée for 2 to 3 minutes, until the vegetables are beginning to soften.
Add the white wine and deglaze the pan. Stir the liquid and wait for it to reduce by half. Next, add the tomatoes, the tomato purée, and the thyme. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, cover partially, and cook while you prepare the other ingredients.
After about 20 minutes, the vegetables should be soft enough to puree with a handheld immersion blender. If you don’t have one, break up the whole tomatoes using a wooden spoon. Taste again for seasoning -- it should taste a little on the salty side, but this will work to flavor the noodles.
To make the vegetables: Preheat your grill (or grill pan) to medium-high heat. Rub olive oil into the sliced vegetables, and season with salt and pepper. Grill the vegetables for a few minutes on each side, until the grill lines are pronounced. Transfer the vegetables to a plate, and turn off the grill (or grill pan).
To assemble the lasagna: Preheat the oven to 350º F. In a medium bowl, crack the egg into the ricotta, season with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and mix well. Set aside. Then, set up your lasagna assembly station. You should have at the ready: tomato sauce, noodles, vegetables, and goat cheese.
In a large casserole dish, start your layering. Start with the tomato sauce, spreading enough to cover the bottom of the dish (about 1/2 cup). Next, layer your noodles, overlapping them slightly. (My pan usually fits 4 noodles across.) Spread 1/3 of your ricotta mixture over the noodles.
Top with a layer of zucchini (you’re aiming for 2 total layers of zucchini). Crumble half the goat cheese on top of the zucchini. Add more sauce to cover the vegetables and cheese.
Repeat with the noodles and ricotta, and then layer your eggplant (you only need one layer of eggplant, so feel free to use it all). Cover the eggplant with sauce, and repeat the next layer: noodles, ricotta, zucchini. Crumble the remaining half of the goat cheese on top of your zucchini. Add more sauce to cover the vegetables and cheese, then top with a final layer of noodles, and cover with the remaining sauce.
Add the mozzarella slices and sprinkle the Parmesan. If you’d like, drizzle a little olive oil over the whole lasagna, and season once more with salt and pepper.
Cover with foil, and bake in the oven, covered, for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 30 minutes. If the mozzarella isn’t fully melted at this point, turn on the broiler. Watch the lasgna carefully so that it doesn’t burn.
Most importantly, rest your lasagna for 5 minutes before slicing so that the pieces stay intact. Serve and enjoy!