For the first time ever, we’re growing oodles of zucchini and squash in the garden. Not quite to glut proportions (yet), but enough for us to be eating a couple every night. At the same time, our finger eggplants have taken off, and we’ve been turning our bounty into curries, ratatouilles and stir fries.
A couple of weeks ago, Pete created this fabulous lasagne with grilled vegetables, and it was so good that we made it again last night. Our first attempt was vegetarian, but this time we’ve added some leftover roasted duck to the tomato sauce.
The dish doesn’t include a béchamel sauce, but rather a combination of melting cheeses. We’ve decided we prefer it that way!
As with all of Pete’s recipes, this one changes each time we make it. I think it’s flexible enough to adapt to whatever ingredients you have on hand, so please treat these instructions as a loose guideline…
We began with:
- 1 packet (500g) fresh lasagne sheets (we always buy Peppe’s Pasta if we’re not making our own)
- zucchini and eggplant (we used about 2kg (4½lb) in total)
- oven roasted tomatoes, enough for one layer (homemade)
- 100ml extra virgin olive oil
- 2 x 700ml bottles of tomato passata
- leftover roast duck (entirely optional and substitutable)
- Fontina cheese, grated (we used about 300g)
- fresh Mozzarella cheese (bocconcini), shredded (we used two small balls)
- grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 large onions, very finely chopped
- basil leaves (about 10)
- salt and pepper for seasoning
* We used about 450g (1lb) of cheese in total – any combination should work. If you can’t find bocconcini, mozzarella will work just as well.
1. Thinly slice the vegetables. On a griddle pan over a high heat, cook the slices over a high heat until marked and slightly charred (alternatively, you could roast the slices in the oven). Allow to cool…
2. Prepare the sauce: in a large frying pan or wok, heat the olive oil and saute the two large, finely chopped onions until translucent. Add the leftover duck (if using) and stir until heated through. Then pour in two bottles of a good passata (we like the Mutti brand) and the shredded basil leaves, and simmer until well cooked and thickened (about 20 minutes). Taste and adjust seasoning as required…
3. Prepare the lasagne according to the instructions on the packet – we placed our sheets in boiling salted water for two minutes, then refreshed them in cold water before use.
Preheat the oven to 200C (400F) with fan, and lay out the ingredients, ready for assembly…
4. Spread a little sauce over the base of a large baking tray, then top with lasagne sheets, a generous ladle of sauce, one of the grilled vegetables and a portion of the grated Fontina cheese. Repeat with the remaining ingredients. Gently (!) squish down on each layer as you go to flatten and even out the sauce and filling (best to do this after the pasta sheets are laid down and before adding the sauce and grilled vegetables)…
5. Continue layering until all the ingredients have been used up. Our layers consisted of zucchini, eggplant, zucchini and finally, semi-dried tomatoes. Top with a final layer of pasta, more sauce and scatter over the shredded Mozzarella and grated Parmesan cheeses. Make sure to spread the sauce evenly over the pasta, to ensure it doesn’t dry out as it bakes. Season with pepper and drizzle with a little olive oil…
6. Bake until golden brown (from memory, it took about half an hour in the oven), then rest for about 15 minutes before serving…
This is a perfect dinner party dish, particularly for entertaining vegetarian friends. It’s so rich and filling that no-one really misses the meat!