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Monday, April 18, 2011

Vegetarian Lasagna

I have been making this recipe or a variation of it since I was about 12.  It was originally a recipe from a Sunset cookbook belonging to my mom that I have adjusted over the years to suit my preferences. Naturally I think that this version is far superior.   Cheese and pasta amounts are approximate; I erred in excess (after all it's cheese-you can't go wrong with too much cheese).   I find that the amount of those ingredients varies based on how deep your pan is and how much cheese and how many layers of pasta you like.  Also, if you aren't completely sold on the flavor of eggplant, chop it up smaller.  The smaller the eggplant pieces, the more the eggplant will assume the flavor of the sauce.  Finally, if you have a mandoline, you can use thinly sliced zucchini as a substitute for the noodles.  I usually use 1/2 zucchini and 1/2 noodles.

1 large onion, chopped
1 medium eggplant, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb mushrooms, chopped or sliced
1 carrot, grated
handful of fresh parsley, chopped
2 14.5-oz cans diced or stewed tomatoes
1/2 cup dry red wine
2 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 1/2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Red pepper flakes, optional (I like a little kick)
2 T tomato paste 
1 lb lasagna noodles, cooked until a scant al dente (I almost never use this much...you might however)
2 small zucchini, sliced thinly lengthwise (optional)
2-3 cups Ricotta cheese
2-3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1-2 cups shredded Parmesan cheese (don't use the crap from the green can.  Of course if you decide to it's your gullet, not mine) 
olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add eggplant and onion; cook until onion begins to lose its opacity.  Add garlic, carrot, mushrooms, and parsley and saute until vegetables begin to caramelize a little.  Add wine, tomatoes, salt and pepper, and spices.  Bring to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes or so or until sauce has thickened.  Add tomato paste and remove from heat. 

Spread about 1/4 of the sauce on the bottom of a 9X13 or larger (I prefer a 5-qt) baking dish.  Arrange one layer of noodles on the bottom of the dish.  If using zucchini, add a layer of zucchini next.  Dot noodles with ricotta cheese, followed by about 1/3 of the mozzarella and 1/4 of the Parmesan.  Repeat this process until the dish is filled.  Spread remaining sauce over the lasagna and top with Parmesan and mozzarella.  Bake until hot and bubbly (about 50-60 minutes at high altitude).

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