I will admit, lasagne is not as pretty on day two. This one in particular because it has some broccoli in it and that vibrant green fades to dull army yuck after a night in the refrigerator. Still, this was a big hit at Saturday’s yoga retreat and I got multiple requests for the recipe. Lasagne is not something I make often but it is the perfect thing to make when you need to feed a lot of people. The tricky thing for me is finding a recipe that isn’t a total gut bomb. I knew these yogis would be hungry after a two hour hot yoga class (I certainly was) but no one wants to undo all that good-for-your-body yoga with a bad-for-your-body lasagne.
Many lasagne recipes use a béchamel sauce (which is a cream sauce with a roux base) and while those certainly taste good, they are not the healthiest. I try to avoid that type of lasagne but what you are often left with are the boring lasagnes or the “super quick” ones that rely on lots of cheese and bottled sauce. I thought this was a really good version. The filling is quick-sautéed red bell peppers mixed with steamed broccoli and ricotta. Broccoli might sound weird in a ricotta filling but I thought it was terrific.
Make no mistake. You are not going to find this dish at a wellness spa. But here is a good example of how I like to eat. There is regular ricotta, regular mozzarella, and regular Parmesan in there – I find the low fat versions of those things to be disgusting. I just used a lighter hand with the cheese. I doubled this recipe and I had way too much broccoli, so I am adjusting the recipe below. I have never had success with those no boil lasagne noodles, but I bought mine at Whole Foods this time (their brand, super inexpensive) and they became meltingly tender in the oven. The sauce here was a star. I’m a big fan of sundried tomatoes in general but had never used them in a sauce. Turns out they lend a smokiness and depth to an otherwise simple sauce.
All in all, this was a wonderful dish. One I would make for gatherings big and small.
Lasagne Previously on Dana Treat: Lasagne with Eggplant and Chard
One Year Ago: Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
Two Years Ago: Mushroom Enchiladas
Red, White, and Green Lasagne
Adapted from Gourmet
I assembled the entire lasagne the day before and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight. I baked it for an additional 20 minutes or so.
2 large red bell peppers, chopped
15 ounces ricotta cheese
1 pound broccoli, cut into florets
1 box dry no-boil lasagne noodles (you won’t need all the noodles)
8 ounces mozzarella, grated
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Rich Winter Tomato Sauce (recipe follows)
Put a large skillet over medium heat. Add just enough olive oil to coat the bottom and then add the peppers and a large pinch of salt. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until peppers are crisp-tender, about 7 minutes. Allow to cool slightly. Put the ricotta into a large bowl and stir in the peppers. Steam the broccoli until crisp-tender, about 3 to 5 minutes. Allow to cool slightly, then give it a rough chop. Stir into ricotta mixture and season to taste with pepper and salt.
Preheat oven to 375ºF.
Pour 1 cup tomato sauce into a baking dish, 13 by 9 by 2 inches, and line the bottom with lasagne sheets, not overlapping. Drop about 1½ cups ricotta mixture by spoonfuls onto pasta and gently spread with back of a spoon. Sprinkle ¼ of the mozzarella and ¼ of the Parmesan over ricotta mixture. Make two more layers in the same way, beginning and ending with pasta. Spread remaining sauce over pasta (you may have a bit left over), making sure the pasta is completely covered, and sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan.
Cover dish tightly with foil, tenting slightly to prevent foil from touching top layer, and bake in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake lasagne 10 minutes more, or until top is bubbling. Let lasagne stand 5 minutes before serving.
Rich Winter Tomato Sauce
Makes about 3 cups
The recipe instructs you to use a food mill to purée the sauce but I don’t have one. I used my handheld immersion blender. It was fairly chunky but I liked that.
½ cup packed dried tomatoes (not packed in oil)
1 cup boiling water
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp. butter
28-ounce can whole tomatoes with juice
1 tsp. sugar
In a small bowl soak dried tomatoes in boiling water 30 minutes and drain. While tomatoes are soaking, heat a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add butter and when melted, add onion and a large pinch of salt. Once soft, about 5 minutes, add the garlic and stir another 3 minutes. Pour in the tomatoes and the sugar and another pinch of salt and cook, stirring often to break up the tomatoes, until thickened, about 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Use an immersion blender, a food mill, or a traditional blender to purée sauce.