My Go-To Lasagna
I prefer to make this classic Italian recipe with hearty eggplant slices and mushrooms in place of meat-heavy layers – it makes for a lighter, fresher meal. That said if you’re craving a meaty ragu, just brown a little ground beef or sausage in the pot before adding your tomatoes. This is a dinner that will make the whole family happy.
Lasagne al Forno
- 28 ounce can chopped tomatoes (I like San Marzano brand best)
- 14 ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus some extra for the eggplants
- 6 basil leaves
- 1 small minced onion
- 1 pound lasagna noodles
- 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
- 12 ounces goat cheese (chevre)
- 1 pound frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed ‘dry’
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1 pound sliced mushrooms
- 2 pounds eggplant
Place the extra virgin olive oil in a 4 quart sauce pot over medium heat.
Add the onions and cook until glassy and aromatic.
Add the garlic and stir. Add the basil and the crushed and chopped tomatoes. Simmer for 25 minutes, season with sea salt and set aside.
Blanch the noodles in a large volume of rapidly boiling salted water until the noodles begin to soften, roughly 4-5 minutes. Drain and reserve under damp paper towels.
Combine the ricotta, spinach and goat cheese in a mixing bowl, season with crushed fresh black pepper and sea salt. Set aside.
Saute the mushrooms and thyme in the olive oil over medium heat until caramelized to a honey brown and pull from heat, set aside.
Cut the eggplant into 1/4 inch slices. Brush each slice with olive oil and arrange on a cookie sheet in a single layer.
Broil (one side only) for several minutes until beginning to char. Pull from heat and cool.
Build the Lasagna
Heat the oven to 400 degrees.
Build the lasagna in a nice oven-to-table baking pan (roughly 9×13 or 10×14 inches). First, spread a cup of the sauce in the bottom of the pan, then a layer of roughly a quarter of the noodles, followed by a third of the cheese mixture, then another layer of noodles, a cup of sauce, half the eggplant, a third of the cheese, a fourth of the noodles, the mushrooms, a cup of sauce, the last layer of noodles, the remaining eggplant and the last third of cheese. Season with 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Drizzle the top of the lasagna with a half cup of sauce and bake, covered with aluminum foil, for 30 minutes at 400 degrees. Remove foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes until hot and bubbly. Be sure to let lasagna sit for 10 minutes prior to slicing, allowing it to ‘set up.’
Serve, passing grated Reggiano parmesan at the table.
Photograph by Kate N.G. Sommers.