Easter Lunch? Vegetarian Lasagna


Easter 2020 will undoubtedly remain in the memories of all of us as a much loved celebration that we cannot spend together. However, we can think of cooking something different and experimenting with a different form of sharing by inviting our loved ones to cook the same dish and to sit at the table, using, for once, a computer or a tablet instead of a floral centerpiece and having lunch together even if far apart.

So this is my suggestion for Easter lunch: Vegetarian Lasagna.

I know what you are thinking: being Italian, using the word Lasagna for a dish other than the traditional and delicious baked pasta, known all over the world, is almost a heresy. It is, in fact. However, calling this recipe “baked seasoned vegetables” is not correct, neither “vegetable pie” nor “layered vegetables” … the most visually appropriate solution of what the final result should look like is simply:

Vegetarian Lasagna

Vegetarian Lasagna – Photo by Matteo Gazzarata

Ingredients for 6 people:
1 and ½ big Eggplant
2 big green Zucchini
½ liter of Tomato sauce
1 Onion
Olive Oil
Salt, Water
Parmigiano Reggiano DOP

For the cream sauce (Bechamel)
50 g of butter
50 gr of wheat flour
½ liter of whole milk
Nutmeg

Vegetarian Lasagna – Photo by Matteo Gazzarata

Procedure:

The making of Vegetarian Lasagna requires 4 steps. It might look pretty long but it isn’t, and the results is really worth the effort.

Step 1) The Tomato sauce: siPeel the onion, wash it and chop it into very small pieces. Take a saucepan with a diameter of about 15 cm and at least 10 cm high, put it on the fire with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. When the oil is hot, put the onion and let it fry until the onion turns into a golden color, at this point add the tomato sauce, a pinch of sugar to remove the acidity, and a pinch of salt. Add half a glass of water, turn down the fire and cook for about 30 minutes.

Step 2) The vegetables: take the Eggplants and the Zucchini and cut them into thin slices for the vertical side (this is just to save time, although if you prefer, you can easily cut into circular slices for the horizontal side).
Put the Eggplant slices on a plate, sprinkle with salt and let them rest for about 30 minutes. This will eliminate the excess of water and the bitter taste typical of eggplants.
Grill the both the Eggplant and the Zucchini slices: you can use a grill but I prefer to use a non-stick pan because if the slices are very thin the grill might flake them.

Eggplant and Zucchini are the main ingredients
Photo by Andy M. from Pixabay

Step 3) The cream sauce: Take a saucepan with the handle, bring it on the fire and melt the butter together with the flour, stirring constantly with a whisk, then turn down the fire  and slowly add the milk while continuing to stir vigorously, until the consistency is sufficiently dense and free of lumps. Turn off the heat, sprinkle with a little nutmeg and mix once more vigorously.

Step 4) Turn on the oven at 200 ° C
In the meantime, take a medium-sized baking sheet. Put 2 or 3 tablespoons of cream sauce on the bottom and spread it well over the entire surface. Pour 3 or 4 tablespoons of tomato sauce over the cream sauce and spread this too over the entire surface. Take the grilled eggplant slices and compose a compact layer, then sprinkle with plenty of Parmigiano Reggiano. Continue in the same way by composing 4 layers alternating Zucchini and Eggplants to your liking (if 5 layers come, it’s okay !!!)
On the last layer, pour only the tomato sauce and a generous sprinkling of Parmigiano Reggiano.
Bake for about 30 minutes, checking occasionally that the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese has melted and formed a light crust.

Once removed from the oven, wait a few minutes before cutting them because they will be very hot.

Accompany this dish with a good glass of red wine. In combination with Vegetarian Lasagna I recommend a Barbera d’Asti Docg.

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