Vegetarian Lasagna

What makes this extremely good is the combination of homemade pasta, homemade pesto (ah, for a summer garden), and some techniques I’ve picked up from many mentors.

Vegetarian Lasagna

  • Servings: 8-10
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2 medium yellow onions, diced
3-4 medium organic carrots, diced
3-4 shitake mushrooms, diced
8-10 crimini mushrooms, diced
2 T (28 g) butter
2 T (27 g) olive oil
2 T (6 cloves) minced garlic
1 T fresh oregano, finely chopped (or 1 tsp. (1 g) dried oregano)
1 T fresh thyme, finely chopped (or 1 tsp. (1 g) dried thyme)

In a cast iron skillet over medium high heat, heat butter and olive oil until melted and then add onions and carrots. Stir for a minute or so and then lower heat and cook until caramelized (browned). At the very end of their cooking, make a small space on the skillet bottom, add a little more oil and place minced garlic in the oil. Cook for another minute, stirring gently. Incorporate the garlic into the onion/carrot mixture and set veggies aside.

In the same pan, add more butter and oil and melt on medium heat. Add clean, sliced, dry mushrooms and don’t stir. As they release their liquid, stir gently. Your kitchen will smell amazing as they cook!

Put the onion and mushroom mixture in a medium pot and add:
(1) 28 oz. (794 g) can good quality canned peeled tomatoes (I prefer San Marzano)
1/4 cup (58 g) good quality tomato paste
(1) 12 oz. (340 g) jar of good quality tomato sauce*

*Or see how to roast your own tomatoes on this site.

Simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Turn off burner, put the top on and leave the marinara until you’re ready to assemble the lasagna.

Cheese Sauce
8 oz. (250 g) whole milk ricotta cheese (I love BelGioioso all natural)
8 oz. (225 g) organic cultured low-fat cottage cheese
4 oz. (126 g) of a good pesto (we make ours from the garden, see below).

Mix together and refrigerate until assembly time.

Grilled Vegetables
4 medium zucchinis, sliced diagonally
1 eggplant, large dice (I like to remove the peel but it’s not necessary)
1 large sweet onion, large dice

Chop all vegetables and put in a large bowl; coat lightly with good olive oil, salt and pepper.  Place in one layer on two baking sheets in a 450°F / 232°C oven for 30 minutes, giving it a stir about halfway through.  Vegetables should be lightly browned.

Put in a bowl and set aside until assembly time.

2 cups (40 g) fresh basil leaves, packed and stems cut off
4 cloves (60 g) of garlic
1/3 cup (45 g) pine nuts
1/2 cup (106 g) good quality extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. (2-3 g) kosher salt
1/2 tsp. (1-2 g) freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup (40 g) freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino cheese

Pulse the basil, garlic and pine nuts together in a food processor. Slowly add the oil and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the cheese. If storing, transfer to an air-tight container and pour a thin layer of olive oil over the top (this will keep it fresh).

Homemade Fresh Egg Pasta
2 cups (240 g) unbleached, all-purpose flour (weigh it if you can)
3 large eggs (165 g), beaten (If you have access to local chickens, awesome! Fresher is better here).

Pulse the flour in your food processor for a second and then add the three beaten eggs.  (This can also be done by hand). Once the dough has formed a ball, knead for 1-2 minutes.  Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for an hour (important).

I used the pasta attachment for my stand mixer for this next step (the type with rollers), but a pasta roller that clamps to a table and uses adjustable rollers (up to seven thickness settings) is just as good.

A few things to help you have the best experience:
Have a handful of rice flour in a bowl to dust each piece you make. This is essential to help your pasta not stick to itself or to anything else.

Start on the ‘1’ setting with a golf ball sized piece. Keep the rest covered in plastic until you’re ready to do another piece. Feed the pasta through, dust it, and then change the setting to ‘2.’ Repeat, changing it to ‘3’, etc. until ‘4’ or ‘5.’ If you go beyond ‘5’ it will be so thin, it will literally dissolve

You should get thirteen 12” pieces from this recipe. Let them dry for one hour. (If you don’t have a pasta drying rack, try hanging them on a dowel suspended between two large pots placed several feet apart (I once used a broom handle that I’d covered with plastic wrap). You can also lay them out on cookie racks.

Bring a large pot (filled halfway) with salted water to a soft boil.  Drop the fresh pasta in for about a minute or two, and then put back on the rack to await assembly.  (You should do this step right before assembly so they are not sitting long).

Set aside in separate bowls:
1 cup grated fresh parmesan
3 cups grated fresh mozzarella

Spread about 1 cup of the red sauce evenly on the bottom of a 13×9 pan. 
Lay three lasagna noodles on top of sauce, being careful not to overlap them
Top with half of remaining red sauce.
Layer half of cheese sauce on top of that, spreading it out as best you can.
Sprinkle with half of the parmesan.
Lay three more lasagna noodles on top of that.
Then spread all of the grilled vegetables evenly.
Sprinkle with half of the mozzarella.
Lay the last three lasagna noodles down.
Top with last of the red sauce.
Layer last half of cheese sauce, spreading it out.
Add the last of mozzarella and top with parmesan.

If you have the time, let lasagna sit overnight in the fridge; the flavors are stronger when they can marinate together.  When ready to cook, preheat oven to 375°F.  Cook, topped with foil, for 45 minutes, removing the foil for last 15 minutes. 

Let it sit for 10-15 minutes after you remove from oven.  Serve immediately and enjoy!

Recipe by Isabel Gates

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