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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Vegetable Lasagna (Lasagna Con Verdure)

Vegetable lasagna......the name evokes such wholesomeness and virtue but honestly that couldn't be further from the truth! This rich creamy layered pasta dish is absolutely divine. And the fact that it has such versatility, with this one basic recipe you can literally make dozens of vegetable/lasagna creations, will soon have you adding this recipe to your own repertoire. If I haven't got you sold yet, have ever wanted to try your hand at  making fresh pasta? Well then, lasagna is the one to start with and this recipe is the one I would suggest you first use them in. The combination of fresh pasta with seasonal vegetables at their peak is exquisite. With a nice size salad and a loaf of Italian bread this will easily feed 10, so invite some friends over and share the calories, I am strong believer in the theory that sharing meals is the best kind of diet!

1 pound lasagna sheets (Homemade or Dried)
olive oil
4 cups Balsamella (white sauce)
3 cups cheese: All Parmigiana or 1/2 Parmigiana and 1/2 melting cheese such as Mozzarella, Fontina, or other.
6 cups vegetables in season sliced thin or chopped small, plus herbs and aromatics to accompany I also like to add 1/2 cup white wine to hem at the end for added flavor.
Topping: Melt 1 tablespoon butter and mix with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Mix 1/8 cup Parmesan cheese and 1 thick slice bread processed into crumbs together as well.
Preheat oven to 350
Cook the pasta until just under done and drain or use the non pre-boil type of pasta. Split these into 3 even piles.
Spread some olive oil in a large lasagna type pan.
In a large skillet saute the aromatics and then vegetables until tender, 10-15 minutes. Add wine and cook out alcohol for a minute. Add salt and pepper to taste, set aside and reserve the cleaned, dried, and chopped fresh herbs for the layering.
Spread 11/2 cups of the sauce over the pasta sheets.
Spread on half the veggies and sprinkle on half the fresh herbs.
Add half the cheeses.
Repeat another final layer. Reserving 1 cup of sauce for topping.
On top place the final pasta sheets, the 1 cup of  sauce and drizzle the oil and butter covering the sheets completely and then dust on the bread crumb and cheese mixture.
Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes, remove foil and bake for 15-20 minutes more, or until golden and bubbly!

Vegetable/Herb/Cheese Suggestions: These are just some suggestions but the possibilities are endless!

Thinly sliced zucchini, onion & garlic, parsley, and Parmigiana.
Mushrooms, thyme, leeks, and Comte or Gruyere.
Pesto and Parmigiana.
Spinach, Parmigiana, and Fontina.
Winter Squash (parboiled) or sweet potatoes diced, thyme, bacon, and no cheese just the sauce, so yummy!
Asparagus (Use tips only and boil instead of sauteing), Parmigiana, and mozzarella.
Or, how about skipping the veggies all together and nestling chunks of chicken in between layers of white sauce, fresh herbs, and cheese.......
Of course you can use really any seasonal vegetables have creating your own signature vegetable lasagna!

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