Let’s hear it for Mark Bittman, food writer extraordinaire and cookbook hero to all! The 10th anniversary edition of his best-selling How To Cook Everything Vegetarian focuses squarely on all things produce. From soups and salads to elegant, hearty main courses, this is the book to pick up if you’re looking to expand your repertoire. Make this hearty vegetable lasagne tonight and watch the excellent reviews roll in.
At its simplest, lasagne is a baked dish of layered pasta (each sheet is a “lasagna”; lasagne is plural), sauce and cheese; adding some cooked vegetables like spinach, zucchini or mushrooms is a no-brainer. Make your lasagne with fresh pasta whenever you can; it’s traditional and completely delicious. However, store-bought noodles are fine, and egg roll wrappers and polenta slices work surprisingly well too.
- 1 recipe any fresh pasta rolled into sheets, or 16 dried lasagna noodles
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 6 cups tomato sauce (preferably homemade)
- 3 cups cooked spinach, squeezed dry and chopped, or any other chopped cooked vegetable
- 3 cups ricotta, plus more as needed (substitute shredded mozzarella for half of the ricotta, if you must)
- 2 cups grated Parmesan cheese, plus more as needed
- 1/4 cup currants or golden raisins
For the lasagne
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Cut the fresh pasta sheets into long, wide noodles approximately 3 × 13 inches or a size that will fit in your baking dish. Cook the noodles (8 at a time for dried noodles) until they are tender but still underdone (they will finish cooking as the lasagne bakes); fresh pasta will take only a minute or less. Drain, then lay the noodles flat on a towel, not touching so they don’t stick together.
Heat the oven to 400°F. Grease a deep baking dish (9 × 13-inch or similar) with the butter or oil. Add a large dollop of tomato sauce and spread it around. Put a layer of 4 noodles in the dish, trimming any overhanging edges; top with a layer of tomato sauce, one-third of the spinach, one-fourth of the ricotta (use your fingers to “crumble” it evenly over top), and one-fourth of the Parmesan. Sprinkle some salt and pepper between the layers of tomato sauce and spinach if you’d like.
Repeat the layers twice. Top with the remaining noodles, tomato sauce, ricotta, and Parmesan; the top should be covered with cheese; add more ricotta and Parmesan as needed. (You can prepare the lasagne up to this point, wrap it tightly and refrigerate for up to a day or freeze. Bring to room temperature before proceeding.)
Bake until the lasagne is bubbling and the cheese is melted and lightly browned on top, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for a few minutes before serving. Or cool completely, cover well, and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to a month.