If you’ve ever watched Ina or Emeril prepare a traditional lasagna, you know it’s a lengthy process, a Sunday afternoon sort of dish. There’s the meat ragout made from scratch, the boiling of the pasta, the assembly, and all those dirty dishes. Since I learned to cook largely by watching the Food Network, I got used to thinking that lasagna is a tough dish to execute – and ain’t nobody got time for that.
I bought a box of oven-ready lasagna sheets (no boiling required) a while ago and improvised a few quick recipes but none turned out stellar. I remember one being too dry, and another poorly seasoned. I tucked the box with the remaining lasagna sheets into the back of a cupboard and forgot about them until a few months later. I had some leftover marinara and ricotta and decided to make a vegetable lasagna. Because I took a good amount of assistance from the store – jarred sauce, oven-ready pasta – the lasagna came together surprisingly quickly. And it was so good! I realized that vegetables are a much yummier filling for lasagna than the traditional beef ragout. I didn’t take pictures of that lasagna since I wasn’t planning for it to be a blog recipe, but now I’ve made it again (and foresee a lot of it in my future) so we can all enjoy the best vegetable lasagna recipe ever together!
(Yield: 6 servings)
2 tbsp olive oil
About 2 c thinly sliced cauliflower*
1 small green squash, cut lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 bell pepper, sliced
1 celery stalk, sliced thinly on a diagonal
1 small yellow onion, sliced
8 oven-ready lasagna sheets (I like Barilla)
About 2 c store-bought marinara sauce
15 oz part skim ricotta cheese
1 egg, beaten
1 3/4 c shredded mozzarella cheese
Salt + freshly ground black pepper
*I prefer this combination of vegetables but feel free to use whatever you want, like mushrooms, zucchini, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, etc.
Procedure: Heat the olive oil in a large high-sided pan over a medium-high flame. Add vegetables with generous pinches of salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to brown in places but retain a crunch on the inside – about 5 min. Taste and re-season if necessary. Combine the ricotta, egg and 1 c mozzarella in a medium bowl and season with a pinch of salt. Heat the oven to 375F. Evenly spread a few tbsp of marinara sauce on the bottom of an 8×8″ baking dish. Place 2 lasagna sheets in the dish, side by side. (Disregard the gaps between the pasta and the sides of the dish; the pasta will expand as the lasagna cooks.) Layer 1/3 of the cooked vegetables on the lasagna sheets, and top with 1/3 ricotta mixture and a thin layer of marinara. Top with two more lasagna sheets and repeat layers 2 more times. Top with remaining 2 lasagna sheets, spread with remaining marinara and top with remaining 3/4 c mozzarella.
Cover with foil and bake for 40 min. Then remove foil and bake for another 5-10 min, until the top begins to brown. Allow the lasagna to rest 10 min before slicing.