Once in a while, a big baking dish of lasagna, smelling of cheese and tomatoes, crispy edges of lasagna noodles sticking up in the corners, served with some salad and bread is the perfect dinner. Lasagna also serves a crowd at a buffet, transports easily, and keeps if made a day ahead.
Too many tomatoes in the refrigerator starting to get soft means its time to put a marinara sauce to simmer and think about lasagna.
Cousin Paula shared her idea for this lasagna with me years ago. Made with béchamel sauce with Parmegano, rather than layering huge amounts of sliced cheese, it is lighter. My home is kosher, so when it comes to lasagna, I make it dairy. I use marinara sauce, not meat sauce and I use sautéed vegetables in between the layers of pasta and sauce. My son Mitchell frequently requests lasagna for dinner.
12 Roma tomatoes
3 cans peeled plum tomatoes in purée
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 large onion cut in small dice
½ teaspoon sea salt
Cut the Roma tomatoes in half and seed them. Grind the fresh tomatoes in a food processor. In a large preheated sauce pan or sauce pan add the oil, onions and garlic. Sauté until the onions are becoming translucent and sweet. Do not brown the onions or garlic. Add all the tomatoes, season with salt and let it simmer until the tomatoes all disintegrate and reduce to a thick sauce. You need about 5-6 cups of sauce for a full box of lasagna noodles.
1 box of lasagna noodles
1 large stock pot, filled with water
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
Bring the stock pot with water to boil. Add the salt and olive oil. Add the lasagna noodles 1 at a time. Let them boil for about 5-6 minutes and using tongs carefully remove them from the water and place on a plate. You may want to boil them in batches in order to keep them separate.
6 Tablespoons of butter
2/3 cup unbleached flour
4 cups milk, 2% is ok
3 cups of grated Parmesan cheese
In a heavy bottomed sauce pan, melt the butter. Before the butter begins to sizzle or turn color, add the flour. Stir the flour to combine with the butter and continue to stir and cook for a minute on low heat until the roux begins to pull away from the pan. Slowly add the milk all the while continuing to whisk the roux and milk until the roux dissolves in the milk. Continue whisking until the milk begins to thicken, on low heat to prevent scorching. Be patient, as it takes a couple of minutes to thicken. When the milk begins to thicken, add the Parmesan. Whisk until the cheese melts, blends in, and the sauce is thick. Turn off the heat.
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and Pepper
Slice the zucchini in half lengthwise. Then slice them in less then ¼ inch half rounds. Clean the mushrooms and slice. Preheat a sauté pan, add the olive oil, then add the zucchini, mushrooms, and sauté until cooked through. Season with salt and pepper.
Ready to assemble
zucchini and Mushroom sauté
3 cups additional grated parmesan cheese
10-12 large basil leaves cut in ribbons
1 lasagna pan
Starting with the marinara sauce, ladle about 1 and 1/2 cup of sauce in the bottom of the pan. Next, place noodles to cover the sauce in a single layer. Cover the noodles with a layer of béchamel sauce. Use the back of a large spoon to spread it over the noodles. Distribute some zucchini mix over the sauce and sprinkle with parmesan and a little basil. Repeat marinara, noodles, béchamel, vegetable, parmesan, basil. Repeat about 4 times total ending with marinara a little more parmesan and the last of the basil. Bake in a preheated 350º for about 45 minutes until the corners are crisp and it is bubbling and smelling of cheese. Let the lasagna set up for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.