This week we're sharing a menu from Ina Garten's new book, Make It Ahead. We pulled a few of our favorite recipes and chatted with Ina herself about ways to put them together into a delicious and satisfying vegetarian dinner party — one that, yes, you can make ahead.
The star of the show is this roasted vegetable lasagna — always a hit! Here's what Ina says about this dish, with a few smart tips for making it great.
In her headnotes, Ina explains, "I’ve wrestled with all kinds of vegetable lasagnas. I love the flavor but the liquid in the vegetables always makes the lasagna watery. To solve the problem, I roasted the vegetables first and didn’t precook the noodles, and the result is a delicious one-dish dinner. Herbed goat cheese, fresh ricotta, mozzarella, basil, and lots of Parmesan make it really satisfying."
Although this lasagna takes some time to put together, I love that you can do it the day before and just bake when ready to serve! It's definitely hearty and will make a vegetarian crowd very happy.
When soaking the lasagna noodles, I found that a really wide pot worked better than using a bowl, as that allowed the noodles to sit flat as they soaked. Before sprinkling the zucchini and eggplant with the seasonings, I found it easier to just mix the salt, pepper, and oregano in a bowl together, rather than sprinkling them all separately.
If you don't have an electric mixer for the ricotta filling, don't despair! As long as everything's at room temperature, you can just whisk it together by hand — it'll just take a little bit of muscle.
- Christine, April 2015
Roasted Vegetable Lasagna
1 1/2 pounds eggplant, unpeeled, sliced lengthwise 1/4-inch thick
3/4 pound zucchini, unpeeled, sliced lengthwise 1/4-inch thick
2/3 cup good olive oil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
10 ounces lasagna noodles, such as De Cecco
16 ounces fresh whole-milk ricotta
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, lightly packed
4 1/2 cups good bottled marinara sauce, such as Rao's (40 ounces)
1 pound lightly salted fresh mozzarella, very thinly sliced
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Arrange the eggplant and zucchini in single layers on 3 sheet pans lined with parchment paper. Brush them generously with the olive oil on both sides, using all of the oil. Sprinkle with the oregano (I crush it in my hands), 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper. Roast for 25 minutes, sprinkle the garlic evenly on the vegetables, and roast for another 5 minutes, until the vegetables are cooked through. Remove from the oven and lower the temperature to 350°F.
Meanwhile, fill a very large bowl with the hottest tap water and add enough boiling water to bring the temperature to 140°F. One at a time, place the noodles in the water and soak them for 15 minutes, swirling occasionally so they don’t stick together. Drain and slide the noodles around again.
Combine the ricotta, goat cheese, eggs, basil, 1/2 cup of the Parmesan, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed.
Spread 1 cup of the marinara in a 9×13×2-inch baking dish. Arrange a third of the vegetables on top, then a layer of the noodles (cut to fit), a third of the mozzarella, and a third of the ricotta mixture in large dollops between the mozzarella. Repeat twice, starting with the marinara. Spread the last 1 1/2 cups of marinara on top and sprinkle with the remaining ½ cup of Parmesan.
Place the dish on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and bake for 60 to 70 minutes, until the lasagna is browned and bubbly. Allow to rest for 10 minutes and serve hot.
- Assemble the lasagna completely and refrigerate for up to 1 day or freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost (if necessary) and bake before dinner.
→ Buy the Book! Make It Ahead: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook by Ina Garten
Reprinted from Make it Ahead: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook. Copyright © 2014 by Ina Garten. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC