A fresh, healthy, and hearty lasagna recipe filled with vegetables picked from the garden and topped with mozzarella cheese.
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It’s that point in the summer when all the hard work we’ve put into our gardens starts to pay off. We find ourselves with more zucchini and tomatoes and cucumbers than we know what to do with. You can share your bounty with your neighbors, you can swap vegetables with your family members, or you can make this Garden Fresh Vegetable Lasagna. It was created to help you utilize all that garden goodness. Lasagna is great in all forms, but the addition of fresh vegetables adds a lightness and a flavor that just can’t be beat. Plus, every time I hear the phrase ‘vegetable lasagna’, I can’t help but think of Elaine yelling at Puddy on the airplane (Seinfeld, anyone?).
First things first. You want to collect and chop your vegetables. This recipe requires a fair amount of chopping, but it’s worth it. Vegetable lasagna is versatile and you can use any veggies you like – zucchini, summer squash, mushrooms, carrots – you name it. Feel free to throw whatever you’ve got into this lasagna. I decided to go with eggplant, various peppers, and Swiss chard. This recipe calls for: 6 cloves garlic, 1 onion, 1 Serrano (or jalapeno) pepper, 2 banana peppers, 1 poblano pepper, 1 green bell pepper, 1 eggplant, and 2 cups of chopped Swiss chard. Simply chop all your vegetables into a relatively uniform size.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. As the oven warms, you can boil the noodles and saute the vegetables. Boil 1 package of lasagna noodles according to the package instructions. When the noodles are finished cooking, drain and set aside. Heat 1 Tbsp. cooking oil in a skillet on medium. Add the garlic, onion, and Serrano (remove seeds for less heat) and saute for 4-5 minutes or until translucent. You can now add the eggplant along with a pinch of salt and pepper. Saute the eggplant, stirring frequently, for another 5 minutes. Deglaze the pan with 1/2 cup cooking stock. Now add all of the peppers and saute for an additional 5 minutes. Deglaze with another 1/2 cup cooking stock. Lastly, add the 2 cups of Swiss chard along with another pinch of salt and pepper and saute for another 2 minutes, or until the chard has wilted. You should have a nice vegetable mixture filling your house with its wonderful scent.
Now for the filling. This one calls for 2 cups of ricotta cheese, 1 egg, and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Mix all of these ingredients until combined in a small bowl and set aside.
Now for the layering process. Find your favorite cake pan or baking pan and pour 1 Tbsp. of cooking oil into the bottom of it. Spread the oil evenly across the bottom of the pan with your fingers or a small brush. Add 1/2 cup of jarred marinara sauce to the pan to the pan. The combination of the oil and the marinara prevent the noodles from drying and sticking to the bottom as the lasagna bakes. Add 1 layer of noodles to the pan. You can overlap the noodles a bit to make sure there aren’t any gaps and you have a nice, solid layer. Spread half of the ricotta mixture on the noodles evenly. Add half of the sauteed vegetable mixture on top of that. Pour half of the marinara sauce on top of the vegetables. Now you do it all over again. Add another layer of noodles, the rest of the ricotta, the remainder of the vegetables and the other half of the sauce. Whew – time for a glass of wine.
I’m a huge fan of fresh mozzarella, so that’s what I like to use on my lasagna. It melts so nicely. You can use the kind that comes in block form or any kind of cheese you like, but mozzarella has a great melt factor. Simply cut the ball of fresh mozzarella into slices and place across the top of the lasagna in an even layer. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 20 minutes. That last 20 minutes is where most of the melting action takes place.
After all that chopping and waiting, it’s time to enjoy that garden bounty. Add 1/2 cup of chopped basil to the top of the lasagna. Cut yourself a huge slice and dig in. This is the moment when the weeding and watering and wresting with the deer fence in the garden all becomes worth it.
Pottery by Bill Gossman.
- 6 cloves garlic
- 1 white onion
- 1 Serrano or jalapeno pepper remove seeds for less heat
- 2 banana peppers
- 1 pablano pepper
- 1 green bell pepper
- 1 eggplant
- 2 cups chopped Swiss chard can substitute spinach or kale
- 1/2 cup chopped basil
- 2 cups ricotta cheese
- 1 egg
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup vegetable stock
- 1 jar favorite marinara sauce
- 1 ball fresh mozzarella
- 1 package lasagna noodles
- Heat oven to 350 degrees.
- Boil lasagna noodles according to package instructions, drain, and set aside.
- Chop garlic, onion, Serrano, banana, pablano, and green peppers, eggplant, and Swiss chard.
- Heat 1 Tbsp. cooking oil on medium heat.
- Saute garlic, onion, and Serrano pepper for 4-5 minutes, or until translucent.
- Add the eggplant and generous pinch of salt and pepper and saute for 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Deglaze with 1/2 cup cooking stock.
- Add all the peppers and saute for 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Deglaze with another 1/2 cup cooking stock.
- Add Swiss chard and cook for another 2 minutes, or until wilted. Set aside.
- Mix ricotta, egg, and generous pinch of salt and pepper in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Coat the bottom of baking pan with 1 Tbsp. cooking oil.
- Pour 1/2 cup jarred marinara sauce onto bottom of baking pan.
- Add 1 layer of lasagna noodles to pan. Spread half the ricotta mixture evenly on top of noodles. Add half the sauteed vegetables on top of that and then half the marinara sauce on top of that. Repeat.
- Cut fresh mozzarella into slices and place across top of lasagna.
- Cover the pan with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 20 minutes.
- Add 1/2 cup chopped basil on top of lasagna when finished cooking.