Friday, January 22, 2010

Roasted Vegetable Lasagna

Satisfied diners - Matt and Chef Josh
So a couple weeks ago, some friends of mine got together for an Italian feast. Josh was kind enough to prepare a vegetarian dish for me - The Joy of Cooking's Roasted Vegetable Lasagna. Although Josh and I don't have the same version of The Joy of Cooking (I have the 75th Anniversary Edition and Josh has one that is much more bougie), the recipe is pretty close. I know that he actually roasted the tomatoes with the rest of the vegetables, while my version just calls for tomato sauce.

Here are the ingredients for The Joy of Cooking's Roasted Vegetable Lasagna (8-12 main course servings):

For the layers:
-3 cups tomato sauce
-4 cups shredded mozzarella (1 pound)
-1/2 cup grated Parmesan (about 2 ounces)
-2 eggplants (about 3 pounds), quartered lengthwise, sliced in half inches
-6 medium zucchini (about 2 pounds), sliced in half inches
-1/2 cup of olive oil
-1 teaspoon salt
-1/2 teaspoon black pepper
-1 pound of lasagne

For cheese filling:
-15 ounces ricotta
-2 large eggs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan (2 ounces)
-1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Black pepper to taste
Grated or ground nutmeg to taste

To begin, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Grease a 13x9x2 inch baking or lasagne pan.
Slice vegetables in half inch pieces. Toss vegetables with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Divide the vegetables between two roasting pans or baking sheets, spreading them in a single layer. Roast for 20 minutes, then toss the vegetables and continue to roast until well browned and soft, about 20 minutes more. Transfer the vegetables to a large bowl and set aside. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees.
*Note: you can roast the vegetables a day ahead of time and place in refrigerator until ready to use.

While your vegetables are roasting, cook the lasagne noodles in a large pot of boiling water until barely tender. Drain the pasta and place it in a bowl of ice water to cool. Separate the pasta and blot it dry.

In a medium bowl, make the cheese filling, by combining the ricotta, eggs, Parmesan, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Then stir until well combined.

Now it is time to assemble the dish. Spread a thin layer of sauce over the bottom of the prepared pan. Cover with a layer of pasta, slightly overlapping. Spread with one-third of the ricotta mixture. Sprinkle with one-quarter of the mozzarella and grated Parmesan over the ricotta. Spoon one-third of the roasted vegetables on top and then 1/2 cup of sauce. Add another layer of pasta and then continue layering the lasagne until you have 4 layers of pasta and three layers of filling. Spread the remaining sauce on top and sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan.

Josh layering and peppering the lasagne.
Cover pan with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and continue to bake until golden and bubbly, about 15 minutes more. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving.
Overall dinner was absolutely delicious. I think one of the most important details to point out is that Josh cooked the pasta to the perfect tenderness - not too tender. The noodles were still firm enough after the lasagne baked, that each layer was distinguishable in your mouth. Also, roasting the vegetables gives the dish an added richness overall, and although I didn't notice it, everyone said that you could really taste the nutmeg.

To finish the dish, we enjoyed a mediocre pint of chocolate gelato, and tasty box of Amaretti di Saronno cookies. The cookies are wrapped in pairs with tissue paper, making them feel like you are unwrapping a gift every time you have one. They are a real treat, but kind of pricy.
On a side note: Josh's sister gave him an electric pepper grinder. When you turn it upside down the grinder turns on and pepper comes out. Click to watch the video below.

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