But we rarely cooked what we wanted to do again. Some versions look quite tempting with a top coat of frothy cheese and a thick tomato sauce, but cutting a square out of it always reveals problems in essence. Often placed between sheets of pasta in raw form, zucchini and squash are paired and sluggish, filling the dish with its juice – or, in some cases, poorly prepared and crunchy.
Then there are the eggplants, which are usually not only wet but also greasy from pre-frying. Add to that the usual patches of dry cereal ricotta, and it’s amazing that this dish has ever become an Italian-American standard.
So what does it take to make a rich lasagna with vegetables that would withstand – not washed away – cheese and sauce? Removing the product from some moisture and enhancing its flavor before adding to the dish will be a step in the right direction.
From start to finish: 1 hour 45 minutes
Partially skimmed mozzarella can also be used in this recipe, but avoid pre-shredded cheese as it melts poorly. We prefer kosher salt because it clings best to eggplant. If you use salt, halve the amount.
1 jar (28 ounces) of chopped tomatoes
1/4 glasses of finely chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
8 ounces (1 cup) cottage cheese from whole milk
4 ounces grated parmesan cheese (2 cups)
1 cup heavy cream
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon of pepper
Stuffing and noodles:
1 1/2 pounds of eggplant, peeled and sliced ﾽ-target pieces
Kosher salt and pepper
1 pound zucchini, chop ﾽ-target pieces
1 pound yellow summer squash, chopped ﾽ-target pieces
5 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon of olive oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
12 ounces of baby spinach
12 noodles for lasagna without boiling
1/2 glasses of pitted crushed olives
12 ounces mozzarella cheese from whole milk, shredded (3 cups)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
For the tomato sauce: Whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl; postpone.
For the cream sauce: whisk all the ingredients together in a second bowl; postpone.
For the filling and noodles: put the grill in the middle position and preheat the oven to 375 F. Toss the eggplant with 1 teaspoon of salt in a large bowl. Lay out a large plate with a double layer of coffee filters and lightly sprinkle with vegetable oil. Spread the eggplant evenly over the coffee filters; wipe and save the bowl. Bake the eggplant in the microwave until dry to the touch and slightly shrunken, about 10 minutes, tossing halfway in the microwave. Allow to cool slightly. Return the eggplant to a bowl and mix with the zucchini and summer zucchini.
Mix 1 tablespoon oil, garlic and thyme in a small bowl. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch non-stick skillet over medium heat until transfused. Add half the eggplant mixture, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are browned, about 7 minutes. Spread the vegetables to the sides of the pan. Add half of the garlic mixture to the center and cook, breaking the mixture into the pan, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir the garlic mixture with the vegetables and transfer to a medium bowl. Repeat with 2 tablespoons butter, remaining eggplant mixture and remaining garlic mixture; transfer to a bowl.
Heat the remaining 1 teaspoon of oil in an empty pan over medium heat until shiny. Add the spinach and cook, stirring often, until wilted, about 3 minutes. Transfer the spinach to a plate lined with a paper towel and allow to drain for 2 minutes. Stir in the eggplant mixture. (Stuffing can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours.)
Grease a 13 by 9 inch baking dish. Evenly spread 1 cup of tomato sauce on the bottom of the dish. Lay 4 noodles on top of the sauce (the noodles will overlap). Evenly spread half of the vegetable mixture on the noodles and then 1/4 cup of the olives. Spread half of the cream sauce on top and sprinkle with 1 cup of mozzarella. Repeat layers with 4 noodles, 1 cup tomato sauce, remaining vegetable mixture, remaining 1/4 cup olives, remaining cream sauce and 1 cup mozzarella.
For the last layer, lay out the remaining 4 noodles on top and completely cover with the remaining tomato sauce. Sprinkle the remaining glass of mozzarella evenly with tomato sauce.
Cover the form tightly with aluminum foil sprayed with oil spray, and bake until the edges are just bubbling, about 35 minutes, rotating the form halfway through baking. Allow the lasagna to cool for 25 minutes, sprinkle with basil and serve.
Nutrition information per serving: 537 calories; 296 calories from fat; 33 g fat (14 g saturated; 0 g trans fat); 68 mg of cholesterol; 928 mg of sodium; 42 g of carbohydrates; 6 g of fiber; 9 g of sugar; 25 g of protein.