Sunday, November 25, 2012

Vegetarian Lasagne:

Layered With Love

Layered with love? How cheesy is that title? Well let me tell you friends and neighbors, it's real cheesy. Three kinds of cheesy to be exact. Hehe, stepped into that one, didn't you?

In my humble opinion, lasagne is the quintessential comfort food. It's oozing with melty cheeses, it's got thick noodles that are as filling as all get out, and it's packed full of flavor. Lash that together with a hunk of warm garlic bread, a glass of Sangiovese and you are in Heaven.

Now, you can go many different directions with lasagne. And there are three quarters of a million different recipes out there. Trust me. I counted them. All of them. Me? I like the kind with the red sauce as opposed to the cream sauce types. I'm not saying I don't like both, just that if you put them both in front of me, I'd naturally gravitate toward the red sauce lasagne. And of course, since this is a vegetarian blog site, it's gonna have to be, well, vegetarian. 

My aim, when making these dishes, is to please not only myself, but of course, my wife as well. We don't disagree on too many things. That's one of the things that has made our marriage last for so many years. But when it comes to mushrooms, it's like Peter Griffin vs. the chicken, Spy vs. Spy, Wile E. Coyote vs. The Roadrunner. I love mushrooms and will demand that I'm buried with some. She, on the other hand, thinks they're slimy and therefore gross. The compromise? I leave them in large enough chunks so she can easily pick them out...... Smily face. Or as she would say, slimy face.   

While I was doing my research for this recipe, I came across a very interesting tidbit of info. This may already be common knowledge, but it's a new one on me. I always spelled lasagne with an "e" at the end. However, when I searched for it, the suggestion was to to spell it with an "a" at the end. Both look right to me but I always just used the "e" when I wrote it. As it turns out, both are correct. Lasagna is the correct spelling for one noodle, whereas lasagne would be the plural. It would stand to reason, at least from my perspective, that lasagne would be the correct spelling for the dish as well since the dish calls for several noodles. But I suppose that's up for debate.  

This particular recipe is adapted from a number of different recipes. However, its’ greatest influence came from a recipe written by an Allrecipes contributor by the name of John Chandler. This was originally a meat sauce lasagne recipe but I have made the appropriate changes to make it vegetarian. Yes, there seems to be a lot of ingredients here but I'd be willing to bet that you already have many of them in your pantry. And the extra effort you put into this dish will be well rewarded. 


1 (28 oz) can of crushed tomatoes
1 (15 oz) can of tomato sauce
2 (6 oz) cans of tomato paste
1/2 cup of water (you can use veggie broth if you have it on hand)
2 Tbsp white sugar
1 1/2 tsp dried basil leaves
1 tsp fennel seeds (do not leave this out!!!)
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 Tbsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
4 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley, divided
1/2 cup minced white or yellow onion
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small eggplant, peeled, quartered lengthwise, and sliced into 1/4 inch slices
1/2 a medium zucchini, cut in half lengthwise and sliced into 1/4 inch slices
1/2 chopped green bell pepper
1/2 pound baby portabella mushrooms, sliced (you can use crimini if you want) 
12 lasagna noodles
16 oz ricotta cheese
1 egg
1/2 tsp salt
1 pound mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese


In a Dutch oven, combine crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water. Season with sugar, basil, fennel seeds, Italian seasoning, 1 tablespoon salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons parsley.

Now add the onion, garlic, eggplant, zucchini, bell pepper, and mushrooms. Bring to a simmer over a medium high heat. Once simmering, lower heat, cover and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally (about every 10 minutes or so).

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes. You want them fully cooked but you want them al dente. Drain noodles, and rinse with cold water. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese with egg, remaining parsley, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

To assemble, spread 2 cups of sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Arrange 6 noodles lengthwise over sauce. Spread with one half of the ricotta cheese mixture. Top with a third of mozzarella cheese slices. Spoon 2 cups sauce over mozzarella, and sprinkle with 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese. Repeat layers, and top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Cover with foil.  To prevent sticking, either spray foil with cooking spray, or make sure the foil does not touch the cheese.

Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil, and bake an additional 25 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.

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