It’s very rare to find anyone that doesn’t like Lasagna, which makes it the perfect party dish. There are so many different recipes out there but they all come down to cheese, pasta and sauce, and then the additions that make everyone have a different recipe. Plus it’s so difficult to make a ‘small’ lasagna so you know it will feed a crowd!
I have been making this version for years and I love it because it’s a vegetarian version but it can easily have some crumbled Italian sausage as well if you desire.
I love to make a large batch of simple marinara with garden fresh tomatoes to make for extra special lasagna. I simply blanch and peel the tomatoes and chop them coarsely. Bring the tomatoes to a simmer in a large pot, and then once soft, I ran them in batches thru a food mill, this removed most the seeds. Then I return them to a pot with a glug of olive oil and grated garlic. Add in about ½ cup of tomato paste, and let sauce simmer. Simmer until you get your desired thickness. I like to store in Ball jars and keep in the fridge until ready, or easily freeze in ziploc bags.
When I make this lasagna I also like to use seasonal mushrooms in the mushroom layer. This time of year nice rich meaty Chanterelles are in season and their nutty flavor adds a great depth to the dish.
Serve this lasagna alongside a great big Caesar Salad and some delicious buttery garlic bread. You will carb load your guests and they will not miss the meat one bit.
I made this most recently for Napa Cab’s second birthday party. 15+ guests enjoyed every bit of this dish. Having a large Caesar Salad and an Savory Autumn Salad with garlic bread made this lasagna feed the crowd and we had leftovers!
*Note if you want to make this whole meal vegetarian just leave out the anchovies and prosciutto in the salads.
- 4 red, yellow or orange bell peppers, washed and dried
- 2 shallots, minced
- 7 cloves garlic, minced
- olive oil
- 3 zucchini, shredded
- 1 pkg. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained/pressed.
- 1 15ounce container whole milk ricotta
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup mix of chopped fresh, thyme, parsley and basil.
- 1/4 pound chanterelle mushrooms, chopped
- 1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, chopped
- dash red wine
- 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
- 1-2 cups parmesan
- 4-5 cups shredded mozzerella
- 1 pound package of lasagna noodles
- 6-8 cups prepared marinara sauce
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- Preheat a grill to high and roast each of the peppers. You want to just let the roast so that the skins get fully blackened. Once fully charcoaled place them in a bowl and over tightly with plastic wrap. Let rest, (I like to start this part early in the day so that they have time to sit and cool). Once cooled with a paper towel rub off the blackened skin and remove stem and seeds. Rinse to make sure no seeds remain. Slice them into thin strips and set aside.
- Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add a glug of olive oil and then the shallot and garlic. Sauté for a few minutes until they become translucent, turn heat down if beginning to burn. Add the zucchini and sauté for 7-10 minutes until tender and juices have been released and most have evaporated. Season with 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Remove pan from heat, tilt pan so that any remaining juices can be poured off.
- In a large bowl add the zucchini mixture, allow to cool slightly. Add in the ricotta, eggs, spinach and herbs. Mix until fully incorporated. Set aside.
- In the same sauté pan add another glug of olive oil over medium-high heat, add in the fennel seeds and toast until fragrant. Add in all the chopped mushrooms and shake about. Sauté until the mushrooms have released all their liquids. If you get any brown bits, take and add a splash of red wine to the pan and scrape up the bits. Set aside.
- Boil the pasta according to the package directions. Drain and rinse with cool water.
- In a lasagna pan (see link below) or similar large baking dish. Pour 2 cups of sauce over entire bottom of the pan. Lay in 5 overlapping noodles to cover sauce. Spread gently 1/3 of the zucchini mixture over the noodles. Sprinkle over 1/3 of the mushrooms, 1-1 1/2 cups marinara, mozzarella and parmesan. Then add another layer of noodles, zucchini mixture, all of the bell pepper strips, more sauce and cheese. Layer with remaining noodles and remaining ingredients. Top the entire dish with the last of the sauce and a lot of the cheese to get a nice cheesy golden top.
- Bake covered with parchment and foil for 1 hour at 375 degrees. Remove cover and bake another 25 minutes until top is golden and crusty! Cool for about 10-15 minutes before slicing.
- You can add a layer of crumbled Italian Sausage, just sauté it in the pan after your are done with the mushrooms and deglaze with more red wine. Sprinkle crumbled sausage in one of the layers.
- Also you can easily make this early in the day and let it rest covered in the fridge until ready to bake. Remove from fridge about 20 minutes before ready to go in the oven.