It amazes me that just a year ago I was intimidated by lasagna. My mom never made it when we were little so I always assumed it was something complicated. It’s one of the easiest things I’ve ever made. Sure, it has to spend a lot of time in the oven getting awesome, but all worth it in my opinion.
Normally I wouldn’t invite you to take a look at our very unpicturesque counter, but I wanted to illustrate the sheer amount of produce Neil’s parents brought us during their visit last weekend. All organic and homegrown. Those bags by the way are FILLED with pears. And those baskets are LINED with habanero and chili peppers. With fresh basil, huge sweet peppers and a basket of eggplant what could be better than a hearty veggie fall lasagna?
2 eggplants, sliced lengthwise 3/4-inch thick (8 slices)
1 large sweet pepper, or 2 regular, slized into rounds
2 tomatoes, sliced
8 lasagna noodles (we used the no-boil variety)
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided plus more for baking dish
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (15-ounce) container part-skim ricotta cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan, divided
1 cup fresh basil leaves, roughly torn or left whole
2 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese
2 cups pasta sauce, your choice (we recommend any of the Newman’s Own varieties, as they completely PWN)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice eggplant lengthwise into 3/4 inch thick slices. Arrange in a single layer on 2 baking sheets. Brush both sides with oil and salt and pepper and bake until the centers turn golden, around 25 minutes.
2. Spray or oil the bottom of a baking dish. Add a thin layer of pasta sauce. Then begin by layering lasagna single-layer slices of eggplant, sweet pepper, tomatoes, pasta sauce, ricotta, basil, cheese and parmesan cheese. The ingredients are enough for 2 layers, but add more layers (with obviously) more ingredients if you like. I would have layered it to the sky if I could.
3. Top with remaining cheese and basil and sprinkle with grated parmesan. Bake covered with foil at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Uncover, and return to oven for an additional 20 minutes until golden brown.
I’m not sure one can get enough lasagna in their diet. It’s that meal that feels traditional and intimate regardless if you’re Italian or not. You just feel like all is right in the world when you make it. Next time I want to bread the eggplant, so it’s more of an eggplant parmesan AND lasagna. I’m pretty sure it would be pure bliss. Maybe I’ll add pesto again too. Will Neil mind another week of lasagna?