Sunday, December 15, 2013

Chef Riccardo's Taste of the Garden: Veggie Lasagna

More and more people around the world are going vegetarian or vegan, at least for part of the week. It's good for our bodies and good for the planet! So I asked Chef Riccardo if he'd create a recipe once a month that highlights the good things we're growing in our gardens, and he said yes.

His first dish is an entree for the winter holidays, and it's one of my favorites, Veggie Lasagna. He created the recipe, and I did my best to cook it up in my subtropical kitchen-on-the-dune. I'm glad to say it turned out well, and I was able to photograph the process before the hungry hordes gobbled it up.

Chef Riccardo's Veggie Lasagna:
3 red peppers, sliced
1 eggplant, cubed (Mediterranean or Japanese style both work well.)
100 gm (about 1 cup) sliced white or baby portobello mushrooms
2 medium onions, chopped
3 green or yellow zucchini, halved and sliced (I used both colors.)
1 bunch of asparagus
200 gm peas (7 oz.)
500 ml (one pint) bechamel sauce, homemade or ready-made
1 ball of mozzarella, sliced thin or grated
lots of grated Parmesan cheese
3 T. extra virgin olive oil
500 gm (one pound) lasagna noodles (homemade or commercial)
Fresh pasta isn't too hard to make at home.

Got everything ready? Follow along with me and let's make this!
Saute' the onions with the oil and add the mushrooms, then a few minutes later, the zucchini, red peppers, and eggplant. Cook, stirring occasionally.
Most of the veggies.

The veggies, chopped and ready for the pan (except for that lazy asparagus!).
When the veggies are cooked through and the onions lightly browned, remove from heat and salt to taste. Put in a bowl and set aside. Blanch the peas and asparagus in a pan of boiling water for a few minutes, then drain and chop the asparagus. Saute' these veggies as well, in butter, salt to taste, and set aside.
Blanched peas and asparagus, looking extremely green.

Sauteed and ready for layering. So colorful!
If you are using commercial lasagna noodles, parboil for about half the full time specified on the box, and set one layer at the bottom of a buttered lasagna dish or baking dish. If using fresh pasta, roll out as thin as possible, and do the same (don't parboil the fresh pasta, just use it directly).  Add a layer of the veggies, then mozzarella and parmesan. Cover this layer with bechamel sauce. You can make this at home or buy it ready to use. I learned to make a roux when I was seven years old, so I like to cook my own....
Bechamel sauce coming right up!
Then simply repeat the layers, pasta, veg, cheese, and sauce, until you run out of stuff. Sprinkle parmesan cheese on top and get ready to bake.  30-45 minutes at 200C, or 380F, should do the trick. Wait until the top is lightly browned.
Serve with fresh radishes and parsley for a lovely green-and-red holiday look. Enjoy!

And a big thank-you to Chef Riccardo for the best lasagna I've ever tried.


  1. I love a lasagna. Even a meatless one.

    1. I really love a veggie lasagna, and what I particularly like about this one is its delicate flavor. Some recipes have an overload of garlic, but this one is just right!