This lasagne is built around the summery flavours of eggplant, tomato, capsicum, zucchini and basil, which are so beautifully complemented by the rich cheeses and luscious bechamel. Baking the vegetables first really makes this lasagne special. Besides adding plenty of roasted notes, it removes a lot of water and intensifies their natural flavour.
2 large red capsicums, cut into 2cm dice
3 zucchini, cut into 2cm dice
2 large eggplants, part-peeled in alternate strips and cut into 2cm dice
160ml extra-virgin olive oil
½ tbsp dried oregano
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
500g fresh pasta sheets or 2 packets dried instant lasagne (pick a good Italian brand)
200g fresh ricotta
200g baby bocconcini, torn
250g scamorza or firm mozzarella, finely sliced
100g grana padano cheese, grated
1 bunch basil, leaves picked
60ml extra-virgin olive oil
1 large garlic clove, sliced
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp castor sugar
1.5 litres full-cream milk
2 fresh bay leaves
100g plain flour
100g grana padano cheese, grated
½ nutmeg, finely grated
1. Preheat the oven to 170C fan-forced or 190C conventional.
2. Add the capsicum and zucchini to one high-sided baking dish, and the eggplant to another. Drizzle the vegetables with 100 millilitres of oil, using more of it on the eggplant. Sprinkle over the oregano and garlic, season with salt and pepper and roast for 90 minutes, stirring through every 20 minutes or so. Once cooked, combine the vegetables in a large bowl.
3. Meanwhile, for the sugo, heat the oil in a medium saucepan. Add the garlic and fry until fragrant. Add the passata, oregano and sugar, season and simmer for 15minutes.
4. For the bechamel, add the milk and bay leaves to a saucepan and heat until just under the boil. Remove from the heat.
5. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Stir through the flour and cook for one minute over medium heat. Add the hot milk gradually while whisking until incorporated and smooth. Stir continuously and cook until just starting to boil. Whisk in the parmesan and nutmeg and season if necessary. Cover with a baking paper cartouche (see Tips) and set aside. Use the bechamel while still hot.
6. Spoon a thin layer of bechamel across the base of a 30 x 25 centimetre baking dish and top with pasta. Follow with another layer of bechamel, half the ricotta and bocconcini, a third of the scamorza, a generous scattering of parmesan and some torn basil leaves, season with salt and pepper and drizzle over a little oil. Add another layer of pasta followed by half the sugo and half the roasted vegetables. Top with pasta and repeat the bechamel, cheese and basil layer. Add another layer of pasta, followed by the remaining sugo and vegetables and finish with the last of the pasta. Top with the remaining bechamel, scamorza and parmesan, and cover with baking paper and foil.
7. Bake for 45 minutes covered and 20 minutes uncovered. Serve or cool and portion for later use.
1. In cooking, a ‘‘cartouche’’ is a cover, usually paper, for sauces, stews and the like. By cutting a sheet of baking paper to a size that fits your bechamel saucepan and placing it directly on the surface of the finished sauce you will prevent the bechamel from developing a skin.
2. Make sure you use all the bechamel, as it makes the lasagne so luscious and rich.
3. Keep your oven clean by placing the lasagne dish on a baking tray to catch any drips.
4. Once cooked for 45 minutes, you could cool the lasagne and freeze for another day. Simply defrost and cook uncovered for about 30 minutes.
Styling Deborah Kaloper; background surfaces from The Establishment Studios; ceramic plate from La Petite Fabrique de Brunswick