1/2 large sweet onion, thinly sliced to 2 inch lengths
2 medium bell peppers, thinly sliced to 2 inch lengths
2 medium zucchini, yellow or green, sliced into 1/4 inch thick rounds
1 small eggplant, rinsed, patted dry, ends cut off, and sliced into 1/4 inch lengths
2-3 T olive oil
1 (15 oz) container ricotta, low-fat is fine
1 lb fresh mozzarella, shredded or chopped
1/4 t ground black pepper
3 t garlic powder
1 t thyme
1/2 t Mediterranean oregano
4 cups marinara or garlicky pasta sauce
1 (9 oz) box no-boil lasagne noodles
2 cups grated Parmesan cheese, divided use
Spoon Mage™ Note:
I know, a lot of folks prefer the spelling: lasagna with the “e” indicating more than ones casserole. I use lasagne because that’s what Mama D used and I learned from her. Technically the “e” indicates more than one noodle (as more than one in a casserole) with an “a” meaning ONE lasagna noodle. You spell it as you wish. I won’t tell Mama.
Do not slice eggplant until shortly before beginning to sear the veggies. Cover the slices with a slightly damp towel until it is their turn in the pan.
There is no need to peel the thin mild tasting skin from fairy tale or Chinese eggplants, but you can if you want to.
The skin of globe eggplants is a little thicker and slightly bitter tasting to some people. Let your taste buds determine whether you peel it or not.
Make this a weeknight recipe by using most of 2 (24 oz) jars of your favorite pasta sauce. I use either Raos or a wonderful sauce Orti di Calabria. Stir it up in a bowl and add more garlic, fresh or dried basil, and a bit of brown sugar.
Do not use regular lasagne (also be spelled lasagna) noodles. This recipe has the correct amount of liquid for the no-boil variety. If you use noodles that are boiled first, your lasagne will be soupy.
The number of noodles used on each layer may vary from 3-4 depending upon the brand you choose. Read the package and use the number recommended.
Slice the onions, peppers, and zucchini. Slice the eggplants and cover with a damp towel.
In a large skillet set over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Let the oil heat for 30 seconds. Then tilt the pan to coat the entire surface with oil.
Add the onion and peppers. Stir infrequently, allowing the pieces to brown a little. You will notice that the aroma changes as the veggies brown. This is the time to remove them to a bowl.
Add a dollop of olive oil to the pan if necessary, then tip in the zucchini, searing the pieces well with infrequent stirring. Let the pieces develop lovely browned areas. Pay attention and when you inhale a beautiful browned aroma, remove the zucchini to a small bowl. This just takes a few minutes, so don’t leave the kitchen, ok?
Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan. Add the eggplant and sear the strips until they is well browned. You will notice a change in aroma when they begin to brown too. This step is also very fast, so let the phone ring. Place the eggplant in a medium bowl.
In yet another bowl (no worries, there’s time to clean it all while the lasagne cooks), combine the mozzarella, ricotta, eggs, black pepper, garlic powder, thyme, and oregano. Inhale deeply … does the mixture need more garlic? Sure it does! You know the people coming to the table tonight, make it rock for them.
In still another larger bowl, stir the pasta sauce with any extra herbs you want to add. Taste and, if the sauce is acidic, add brown sugar. Is there really ever enough garlic? Go ahead and put in some more! Jarred sauce will usually need garlic, basil, and a bit of brown sugar. Tonight I just added purple anisette basil to a fantastic marinara from Calabria.
Spray a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with non-stick spray.
Spread 1 cup of the pasta sauce over the bottom of the dish.
Place 3 sheets of no-boil lasagne noodles on top of the sauce and press slightly. Read the package directions for the noodles. If you bought good pasta, the directions will say not to worry if it doesn’t cover the bottom as the noodles expand when it cooked. If the noodles say overlap them, then use 4 noodles and overlap.
Spread 1 cup of sauce on top of the lasagne noodles.
Plop about 1/3 of the ricotta cheese mixture on top of the noodles. Use the back of a spoon to lightly spread it around. It’s ok if it mixes a little with the sauce. Don’t worry if it doesn’t cover the entire surface. Things will spread as it heats up.
Drain the excess veggie liquids and then top the ricotta with 1/3 of the eggplant, then 1/3 of the onions and peppers, next 1/3 cup of Parmesan, and finally 1/3 of the zucchini. You can get overflow if you just ladle in the veggies and accumulated juices.
Press slightly between each layer.
Make a second layer: 3 noodles, 1 cup sauce, 1/3 of the ricotta cheese, 1/3 of the eggplant, then 1/3 of the onions and peppers, next 1/3 cup of Parmesan, and finally 1/3 of the zucchini.
You are not done yet. Make a final layer: 3 noodles, 1 cup sauce, 1/3 of the ricotta cheese, 1/3 of the eggplant, then 1/3 of the onions and peppers, next 1/3 cup of Parmesan, and finally 1/3 of the zucchini. Your pan is likely pretty full by now, be careful when you lift it.
Sprinkle with 1 cup Parmesan.
Cover tightly with foil and bake at 375 for 1 hour, or until bubbly.
Remove the foil and bake for 10-15 more minutes, or until the top browns up nicely.
Remove from the oven and let rest, uncovered, for 15 minutes before serving.