We’re still in harvest mode over here and I’m still cooking dinner – and sometimes lunch too – every night for our crew. It’s about 12-18 people each day, depending on the various comings and goings. As you can imagine, it’s a big production – a lot of work but a lot of fun too.
Funnily enough I bumped into a friend this morning and I said just about that very thing to her “it’s a lot of work, but a lot of fun too”. Her response was perfect: “it seems like those two things usually go hand-in-hand.” I hadn’t thought of that before, but I think she’s right.
Anyway, if you’re following along you may have noticed that the food I usually make for harvest meals tends to be pretty hearty, stick to your ribs kind of stuff. These people have been working hard and they’re hungry and cold! There also is generally an emphasis on meat – slow cooked braises and stews are perfect for this crowd.
Earlier this week I had scheduled my truly delicious, classic lasagna (“No Catch Lasagna”, as my kids call it, I’ll tell you about that another time) for dinner. But when I woke up in the morning I thought, I’m just not in the mood for another beef-y dish. Not to mention that a friend had dropped off some of the last of her garden bounty – a couple of eggplants and some zucchini. I quickly switched gears and decided to make a Vegetable Lasagna.
I have a veggie lasagna recipe that I love which has just spinach and mushrooms in it. But we’ve been eating a lot of mushrooms lately and that didn’t sound like the perfect thing. Plus I just wanted more veggies. So I started chopping just about every kind of vegetable in the house and made a sauce that was the backbone of this dish.
Other than my daughter Charlotte, who had been anticipating “No Catch Lasagna” this new twist on the planned menu was met with enthusiasm from all. In fact, only one piece remained after dinner, and guess who took it to school the next day for lunch? That’s right – Charlotte.
- Lasagna noodles (see note)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 bell peppers (I used one red and one orange)
- 1 large eggplant
- 4-5 zucchini or summer squash (I used a couple of both)
- 1 (28 oz) can of chopped tomatoes (I used Muir Glen Fire Roasted)
- 3/4 cup dry white wine
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 24 ounces ricotta cheese
- 5 ounces fresh goat cheese
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup chopped parsley
- 2 cups grated Parmesan cheese, divided
- 1 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the diced onion and sauté for about 10 minutes until the onion is soft. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute or two, just until it's fragrant.
- Meanwhile cut all the other vegetables (except the canned tomatoes) into chunks of consistent size, about 1 1/2 to 2 inches each, though there is no need to be too precise about it. As you have them ready add them to the skillet with the onion.
- Continue to sauté until all of the vegetables have begun to soften and maybe brown a bit around the edges.
- Add the canned tomatoes, the wine, the salt, pepper, pepper flakes and oregano and give it all a good stir. Bring the sauce to a boil and then turn it down to a medium simmer for about 20 minutes or so, stirring occasionally.
- Meanwhile put the ricotta and goat cheese into a medium sized bowl. Add the eggs, the chopped parsley and 1 cup of the grated parmesan. Season generously with salt and pepper.
- When the sauce has cooked down, assemble the lasagna.
- Start with about 3/4 cup of the veggie sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 casserole. Then add a layer of lasagna noodles. Top those with a layer of the ricotta mixture (about a third of the total), spread evenly over the noodles. Next add about a third of the veggie sauce and then a third of the mozzarella. Continue layering this way until all of the sauce and ricotta mixture are used up.
- Top the whole thing with the last cup of Parmesan cheese.
- Cover the casserole in foil and bake for about 30 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake for another 10-15 minutes, or until the top of the lasagna is browned to your liking and the casserole is bubbling around the edges.
- Remove from the oven and let sit for about 15 minutes (put the foil back on it to keep it warm) before cutting.
- I do not find it necessary to cook dried lasagna noodles before assembling the casserole. They always cook just fine on their own, when layered between all the goodness inside. My sister-in-law let me in on that little secret years ago, and it hasn't failed me once.