By the time late summer rolls around every year, I find that I am making these roasted vegetables a lot. I think roasting is the absolutely best way to cook most vegetables as it caramelizes the sugars and the vegetables become golden brown and delicious. I can (and do) eat a plate of these vegetables for dinner all on their own, still warm from the oven and topped with some crumbled goat cheese and a drizzle of really good balsamic vinegar. Add a couple of slices of crusty bread, and I have the perfect dinner! My usual combination of vegetables to roast in this fashion includes eggplant, zucchini, sweet peppers, onions, and garlic. I also like to toss these vegetables with some hot, cooked pasta for an easy summer entree.
Recently, I had a craving for lasagna and decided my roasted vegetable medley would be perfect nestled between sheets of tender egg noodles and coated with creamy béchamel sauce. I added some grated Pecorino and mozzarella cheese and ended up with a terrific end of summer lasagna dish. Because my vegetables were being layered in a lasagna this time, I diced them much smaller than I usually do. I also used fresh egg pasta sheets just because I prefer the texture but you can use any lasagna noodles you prefer. I will include instructions for making your own lasagna noodles if you are interested in doing so, but store bought are fine if you are pressed for time. I honestly have never used the noodles you do not need to cook ahead of time, but I am assuming that if you do you might want to add a little extra sauce. I excluded the usual tomato sauce from this pasta dish because I wanted to highlight the roasted vegetables instead. You could add some roasted cherry tomatoes if you prefer, or alternate some tomato sauce along with the béchamel sauce for some layers. Some diced sun-dried tomatoes would also be tasty tossed in with the roasted vegetables.
Deborah Mele 2013
For The Roasted Vegetables:
- 1 Medium Eggplant, Stem End Removed
- 1 Large Red Onion, Peeled
- 2 Medium Zucchini, Stem End Removed
- 1 Large Red Pepper, Cored And Seeded
- 1 Large Yellow Pepper, Cored And Seeded
- 4 to 5 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 2 Garlic Cloves, Peeled & Minced
- Sea Salt & Black Pepper
- 4 Tablespoons Chopped Fresh Basil
- 6 Tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) Unsalted Butter
- 1/2 Cup All-purpose Flour
- 6 Cups Milk
- Pinch of Ground Nutmeg
- Salt And Pepper To Taste
- 4 Cups Unbleached Flour
- 5 Extra Large Eggs
- Pinch of Salt
To Assemble Lasagna:
- 1 1/2 Cups Grated Pecorino Romano Cheese
- 1 1/2 Cups Diced Mozzarella Cheese
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Cut all of the vegetables into 3/4 to 1-inch pieces.
- Place the vegetables on a baking sheet and drizzle with the oil.
- Use you hands to lightly toss the vegetables to ensure they are lightly coated all over.
- Sprinkle the vegetables with he minced garlic, season with salt and pepper, and bake for about 30 minutes or until the vegetables are soft and browned. (You will need to turn the vegetables over a couple of times during the cooking period to ensure even browning.)
- Remove from the oven and cool until the vegetables are room temperature, then toss with the fresh basil.
- For the Béchamel Sauce, melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat, and once it is completely melted and bubbling, add the flour and mix well with a wooden spoon.
- Cook for a minute or two until the flour just begins to take on some color.
- Slowly start adding the milk, whisking continuously to prevent lumps from forming.
- Continue to simmer until the sauce begins to thicken, stirring often.
- Season with a pinch of salt, white pepper and nutmeg.
- Set aside until you are ready to use, by pouring the sauce into a glass bowl and covering with a buttered sheet of plastic wrap.
- To make the pasta, mound your flour on a large pastry board, or the counter, and make a well in the center.
- Break the eggs into this well, and start to scramble each egg with a fork as it is being added, then start to incorporate the eggs and flour by slowly bringing more flour in from the inside edges of the well.
- Continue adding the flour to the eggs until they are no longer runny.
- Using your hands now, bring the outside edges in, forming a large mass on your board. (Use only the amount of flour needed to form a soft ball.)
- Begin to knead the ball of dough as you would bread, pushing it down with the heel of your hand.
- Continue kneading until the dough is smooth and satiny, for about 8 minutes.
- Wrap the prepared dough in plastic wrap, and let it sit for about 30 minutes.
- Use a pasta roller or roll by hand to make long sheets of pasta 1/4 thick. ( I use my Kitchen Aide table mixer with the pasta attachment and roll my past to the third last position.)
- After rolling, cut into 12 inch long strips.
- Precook in boiling water for 30 seconds, then place in ice water.
- Dry and set aside on clean kitchen towels.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- To assemble the lasagna, first spread 1/2 cup of the béchamel on the bottom of a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish rubbed with butter. (Set aside 1 cup of the béchamel sauce for the top.)
- Arrange lasagna noodles over the sauce in the dish, trimming them to fit if needed.
- Spread some of the roasted vegetable mixture over the noodles, top with a sprinkling of the Pecorino cheese, then spoon some of the béchamel sauce over to cover.
- The next layer spoon on enough of the béchamel to cover the noodles, then scatter some of the diced mozzarella and Pecorino cheese on top.
- Cover this layer with more lasagna noodles, then repeat with roasted vegetable layer.
- Repeat layers, ending with noodles.
- Spread the reserved 1 cup of béchamel sauce over the noodles and some of the grated Pecorino cheese.
- Cover with foil, and bake at 375°F for 25 minutes, then remove the foil and bake until bubbly and lightly browned on top, about another 15 to 20 minutes.
- Let stand 10 minutes before serving.