This started out as Stephan's Grilled Vegetable Pasta, which he threw together one night when we didn't really have a dinner plan but had leftover grilled vegetables in the house. I've made it many times since and one day decided to experiment with the vegetable sauce and use it in place of bolognese in lasagna. It's now my favorite lasagna filling--Max and Christian's, too. If you don't have (or eat) prosciutto, you can skip that step. If I have other vegetables around besides those included below (like mushrooms or spinach), I'll chop and throw those in during Step 5, as well. With salad (and red wine), it's an incredibly satisfying meal.
Ingredients for Stephan's Grilled Vegetable Sauce
- 1 small fennel bulb--cut off stalks and fronds and cut bulb into 1/4" slices. (I keep the core when I grill fennel, but you can cut it out if you prefer.)
- 3-4 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4" thick diagonal slices
- 1 large red pepper (I'll use yellow or orange if I don't have red on hand), cut lengthwise into four sections; discard stem and seeds
- 1 medium red onion, peeled and cut into 1/4" slices
- 1 bunch of asparagus--snap off tough ends
- 2 oz. diced prosciutto (or pancetta)
- 4 large garlic cloves, chopped
- 12 pitted Kalamata olives, chopped
- 4 large tomatoes (or 8 Campari tomatoes), chopped. (When I've got the time, I'll grill these whole and chop after.)
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup wine (red or white)
- 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Salt to taste
- Prepare grill for grilling. (I use an outdoor grill pan so the smaller pieces of vegetables don't fall through the grates.)
- Toss fennel, carrots, red onion and peppers with 2 tbsps. of the olive oil and and 1/2 tbsp. of oregano and place on the grill pan. Grill in two steps if pan is too crowded. Cover grill. Once vegetables are charred on both sides (above 3-4 minutes per side), remove from grill and let cool. Once cooled, chop all grilled vegetables and set aside.
- Toss asparagus with 1 tbsp. olive oil and 1/2 tbsp. of oregano and grill, turning once. Once brown on both sides (about 3-4 minutes/side), remove from heat and cool. Cut into 1/2" pieces.
- Add 1 tbsp. of olive oil to pan and sauté prosciutto. Once lightly browned, remove from pan and set aside.
- Using same pan you used for prosciutto, add 2 tbsps. olive oil and sauté garlic until lightly browned. Add chopped tomatoes and olives and sauté 'til tomatoes break down (about 15 minutes). Add 1/2 cup of wine and cook on medium heat until wine reduces by about half.
- Add grilled vegetables and mix well. Add 1 tbsp. of oregano and 1 tsp. of pepper flakes and salt and pepper to taste. Add the prosciutto and more olive oil, if needed. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
- While the sauce is simmering, prepare the lasagna as outlined below. (Or you can boil pasta at this point and serve the vegetable sauce atop your favorite noodles with freshly grated cheese.)
Ingredients for Lasagna
- 12 oz. lasagna sheets (I prefer fresh)
- 1 jar of Rao's Marinara Sauce (I love this stuff and keep a few jars on hand at all times!)
- 1 pound of fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus 1/4 cup for sprinkling
- 15 ounces ricotta cheese
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley (If you don't have fresh parsley, use 1 tablespoon dried parsley)
- Salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Fill a large bowl with hottest tap water possible. Place noodles in bowl and set aside while you complete Step 3 below.
- In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, 1 cup of Parmesan cheese, the egg, 2 tablespoons of parsley, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper.
- Spread a clean kitchen towel on the counter and place the pasta sheets on the towel to absorb water; flip over and dry the other side.
- Spread one cup of the Rao's sauce in the bottom of a 9 x 12 x 2-inch rectangular baking dish, then assemble the layers as follows: 1/3 of the pasta sheets, one third of the ricotta mixture, one third of the vegetable sauce, and 1/3 of the mozzarella. Repeat until you've used up all of the ingredients, ending with the mozzarella.
- I usually spread the Rao's sauce all around the edges of the lasagna so the noodles aren't dry, plus I'll drizzle some over the final layer of mozzarella. (If you feel you need to add some to the vegetable sauce in between the layers, you can do that, as well.) I refrigerate the leftover marinara sauce--it'll last for a week to ten days.
- Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese. Bake for 30 minutes until the sauce is bubbling. (For a golden crust, you can place it under the broiler for a few minutes--just keep your eye on it, so it doesn't burn.)
- Allow the lasagna to settle for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.