Tag Archives: tomatoes

Vegetable lasagna

Spring has come around, so I’m getting excited for delicious sun-ripened vegetables! Seems like the perfect moment to post this vegetable lasagna, which I found as an external post on Jamie Oliver’s website and then tweaked it a bit. Basically, this is a really rich (but healthy!) lasagna using 4 different vegetables. It takes a while to make this lasagna (about two hours), but it’s really worth the wait. It’s a vegetarian-safe dish but I’ve served it to several carnivores and they all agreed, it doesn’t need meat at all!

This amount is good for 5-6 servings.

Ingredients:

2 large eggplants, cut into 1 cm-thick slices
2 medium zucchini, cut into 1 cm-thick slices
3 red or yellow peppers
9 sheets of lasagna (depending on the size of your baking pan, you need 3 layers of lasagna)
250-300 grams of ricotta cheese
400 grams of fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into small cubes or slices
150 grams of grated parmesan cheese
2 egg yolks
a handful of basil, leaves torn
a handful of chopped parsley leaves
500 ml of good tomato sauce or your own fresh tomato sauce (fry some oil with garlic, add tomatoes, perhaps a bit of white wine or extra passata and let it simmer for a while, season to taste with Italian herbs and salt and pepper)

Get cooking:

Heat the grill/broiler function on the oven. Lay the eggplant slices in a colander and sprinkle on both sides with salt, let them stand for about half an hour and  then squeeze as much liquid out of them as possible, then pat dry with paper towels. Lay them on a wire rack, brush both sides slightly with oil, sprinkle with pepper and salt and grill them on both sides until tinted (not brown) and soft. If your oven is small, you may need to repeat this a few times.

While the oven is hot and you’re waiting for the eggplant, you can start with the peppers. Cut the peppers into large flat pieces (two or three parts per pepper) and remove the seeds and inner parts. Lay them on a wire rack and grill until they have black ‘boils’, then put them in a plastic freezer bag and let them steam so the skin will come off more easily. Peel off the skin when cooled (watch out, they’re hot). If you have a really thin peeler, you can try peeling the skin off this way.

Steam the zucchini slices for a few minutes until tender but with enough bite left. The way I do this is by putting a ‘pasta colander pan’ into a fitting pan with a little bit of boiling water on the bottom. You can also use a steamer if you have one, or just add a little bit of boiling water in a regular pan and blanch the zucchini shortly.

Cook the lasagna sheets shortly in salted water if this is indicated on the package and let it drain (the best quality Italian lasagna has to be cooked beforehand).

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsuis (about 350 Fahrenheit). Mix the ricotta, mozzarella and half of the parmezan with the fresh herbs, season to taste with salt and pepper.

Brush the sides of a 25 x 25 cm baking pan (or one about the same size, around 625 square cm) with olive oil and add about 1/4 of the tomato sauce. Arrange the eggplant slices on top of this layer.

Now add 1/3 of the cheese mixture and top with lasagna sheets.

Add another layer of tomato sauce.

Now top with the zucchini slices.

Repeat with the cheese and the pasta. Add another layer of tomato sauce.

Now top with the peppers.

Repeat the process again, using up all the cheese mixture. Top the last lasagna with the remaining tomato sauce and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Top the baking pan with tin foil to prevent burning. Put the dish into the oven and let it bake for 55 minutes, then remove the tin foil and let it bake for 5 more minutes. Take it out of the oven, let it cool for a little bit and enjoy!

Ravioli with ricotta and tomato sauce

We all love Italian pasta, right? It’s so light, full of flavor, simple, addictive, and to me it’s still one of the cuisines that pulls off vegetarian food most effortlessly and naturally. This recipe from delicious. magazine has become one of my personal favorites. It’s not difficult to make, but filling the ravioli will take some time (it’s very much worth it though!). I started out with my ravioli stamp but soon switched to making cut-outs by hand, because this is faster. There’s only one piece of equipment you really need and that’s a pasta machine. It’s possible to roll out the pasta by hand, but it will never be as fine as the machine-made.

Ingredients for 4 people:

for the pasta:
400 grams of ‘tipo 00′ flour (gran duro: it’s also possible to use regular flour but this kind is better for pasta, you can find it at Italian supermarkets)
4 eggs

for the filling:

250 grams of ricotta
the grated zest of one organic lemon (or at least a non-chemically-treated lemon)
a pinch of sugar
a pinch of salt
freshly ground pepper

for the sauce:

olive oil
2 shallots, chopped
garlic clove, chopped
one can of whole peeled tomatoes (or canned cherry tomatoes)
a dash of white wine
small can of tomato passata
note: I made this in February, and I try not to use fresh tomatoes in Winter since they’re just not tasty. If you’re making this in Summer, please use real sun-ripened ones!

topping:

chopped flatleaf parsley
grated parmesan cheese

How to:

Start with the pasta. Put the flour in a bowl, make a cup and add the eggs. Mix with a fork and then with your hands until you have a coarse dough. Take it out of the bowl and knead the dough for at least 10 minutes, until it becomes smooth and elastic (when I get tired I try to see this as a good work out). Wrap it in plastic foil and let it sit for at least 30 minutes.

Make the filling by mixing all the ingredients.

Make the sauce at least 20 minutes before serving, to give it time to simmer. Heat the olive oil in a sturdy saucepan and fry the onion and garlic until soft. Add the canned or fresh tomatoes. Heat the tomatoes and add some white wine. Let this simmer for a while and add the passata. Season to taste with salt and pepper.┬áLet it simmer on a low fire until you have a tasty sauce. At this point, I ‘cheated’ and added a bit of leftover Barilla pasta sauce that I had in the fridge. Of course, you’re free to use your own preferred tomato sauce recipe, but simplicity is key.

Assemble the ravioli while the sauce is simmering. Fill a large saucepan with water, add a pinch of salt and bring to a boil while making the ravioli (one of those pans with an extra ‘colander’ piece is ideal, because you can make several batches of pasta without refreshing the water each time, but a slotted spoon or pasta spoon works fine too). Roll out the pasta with a machine (or by hand), start with a third of the pasta dough. Position the machine at its widest and turn the dough through, fold double and repeat. Keep making the sizes smaller and rolling the dough through twice until you’re at the finest position. Make equal squares or rectangles of the rolled-out dough. I made 5×7 cm, but smaller will work as well. Put a teaspoon of filling on half of the rectangles, then cover with a second rectangle and press carefully, excluding as much air as possible. Finish the edges by impressing them with a fork. Repeat for all of the dough. Boil the ravioli in batches for 3-5 minutes (until they come floating on top) and take them out of the water. Add the pasta to the tomato sauce and mix carefully. Arrange on a plate and top with parsley and parmesan. Enjoy!