Friday, January 25, 2013

Roasted Vegetable Lasagna

Right off the bat, I'm going to admit that vegetable lasagna is not what comes to mind when most people hear the word lasagna.  I'm not saying you shouldn't eat the typical meaty, cheesy lasagna we all grew up enjoying as kids, as long as it is eaten in moderation.  Even in moderation it's sort of a guilty pleasure, but I really don't feel the least bit guilty eating this vegetable version as often as I want.  In spite of it being winter, there is still a wide variety of vegetables to choose from at the market.  The next time you have a cold or rainy day that keeps you indoors, here is a project for you. 
Roasting the vegetables first is worth the time and effort and truly adds depth to the flavor.  I modified a Vegetable Lasagna recipe from Food Network, because frankly I needed more cheese and more vegetables.
Feel free to change the vegetables to your liking and availability.
2 Tbs olive oil, plus 1/4 C, plus 2 Tbs
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed, plus 1 tsp minced, plus 2 cloves, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried parsley
24 oz canned crushed tomatoes
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried thyme
3 medium zucchini, cut lengthwise into thin slices
1 eggplant, cut into bite sized pieces
1 medium butternut squash, cut into bite sized pieces
4 roasted red bell peppers, seeded, skinned, veins removed
3-4 C baby bella mushrooms, sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 C ricotta cheese
2-3 C shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 C grated Parmesan
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
In a small bowl, mix together 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon minced garlic, and dried thyme.  Place the zucchini on a sheet pan and brush with the olive oil mixture.  Bake 15 minutes or until soft.  Remove from the oven and set aside.  Marinate the eggplant and butternut squash in the remaining olive oil mixture for a few minutes
Roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the butternut is mostly cooked.  I charred the red peppers on the grill the day before.  While all this is cooking, I peeled, seeded and placed the peppers on paper towels to remove some of the excess moisture.
Prepare the tomato sauce:  Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add chopped onion and saute until soft and translucent, about 5-8 minutes.  Add 4 cloves crushed garlic and saute until fragrant, another minute or so.  Add the dried herbs and stir.  Lastly add the crushed tomatoes along with the salt and simmer 15-20 minutes or until thickened.
For the mushrooms:  In another pan heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat, add 2 cloves minced garlic and saute until fragrant.  Add the sliced mushrooms and saute until tender and juices are rendered.  Set aside.
Time to start layering.  Begin with a layer of zucchini, then half of the eggplant/squash mixture.
Top with half the tomato sauce and cover with all of the ricotta.
Cut the red peppers as needed to fit and lay on top of the ricotta.
Sprinkle half of the mozzarella, then cover with all of the mushrooms.
Lay the remaining zucchini slices, the last of the eggplant/butternut mixture, and top with the tomato sauce.
Sprinkle on the remaining mozzarella cheese and all of the Parmesan.  Bake about 45 minutes or until cheese is melted and brown.
Let it stand 10 minutes before serving, then dish it up and enjoy.


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