The classic recipe for lasagne al forno (baked lasagna) calls for just a few basic ingredients like the long, flat pasta, a meat ragù sauce, béchamel sauce and cheese. But since we’ve posted some very non-vegetarian dishes, this time we’re publishing a recipe for a dinner with lots of veggies and absolutely no meat: vegetarian lasagne.
So, what’s the story behind lasagna? Besides being Garfield the cat’s favorite food, it’s a food that was eaten way back in Greek and Roman times. The name of their very similar dish, lagane, was probably derived from the word for the pan needed to cook it in the oven. For any food historians out there, note that this dish is technically not considered pasta since the lagane weren’t boiled in water but rather cooked in the oven with sauce. Traditional pasta, the most famous food item in Italy today, wouldn’t come to Italy until it arrived in Sicily by way of the Arabs.
To make this traditional food at home, try out this recipe for vegetarian lasagne, which features mushrooms and zucchini. But remember that any combination of spinach, zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms, either with or without tomato sauce would be nice, depending on what you like and what’s available in the fridge or at the market.
And if making béchamel sauce on the stove top sounds worse than studying for a hard microeconomics exam, all supermarkets sell ready-made béchamel sauce (just look near where the cream is stocked).
Cooking time: about 40-50 minutes
Ingredients (for 4-6 people)
- 500g of fresh lasagne
- 20g dried mushrooms
- 175ml warm water
- 100g butter
- 350g zucchini
- 1 diced onion
- 300g fresh mushrooms
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 500g tomato sauce
- 100g grated parmigiano-reggiano or grana cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
Ingredients for béchamel:
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 40 g flour
- 900 ml milk
- 2 teaspoons nutmeg
- Soak dried mushrooms in warm water. Remove them after about 20 minutes, squeezing out any liquid, then sift the water to get rid of any grit or dirt. Chop the fresh mushrooms and set them aside.
- Chop the zucchini into small pieces. Heat half the butter or olive oil in a pan, then cook the zucchini with some salt and pepper for about 5 minutes. Set aside.
- Sauté onions, garlic and mushrooms with the rest of the butter and a little salt for a few minutes, then set aside.
- Now prepare the béchamel sauce: first melt the butter in a saucepan, then add the flour gradually while stirring. Cook this mixture for 2 minutes on medium heat, then add warmed milk little by little. This final mixture should be whisked until it becomes a creamy sauce, then add salt, pepper and nutmeg.
- To prepare the final dish, layer tomato sauce, veggies, pasta and béchamel, until all the ingredients have been used up, making sure to finish with a nice layer of béchamel covering the last layer of lasagne. Sprinkle lots of parmigiano cheese on top and bake for 25-30 minutes at 200° C.
- Dig in and enjoy!
- (optional) One of the few dishes that’s just as good (if not better) the day after, this is great to have as leftovers!
Variations: Use only fresh mushrooms and no dried. Add or substitute spinach, eggplant and/or artichokes for the other vegetables. You can also substitute the tomato sauce with more béchamel or extra cheese like mozzarella or ricotta for a “white” lasagne dish.