Saturday was the last farmer’s market in my town and of course I run there to get some fresh stuff and say good bye to things I will just see again in probably 8, 9 months or so. I felt sad; the mood was totally like a farewell, sellers saying good bye to their loyal customers and the wind always blowing the little empty baskets. Even the tents didn’t have covers, increasing the idea of a rush, of parting, almost like the farmers were saying “It’s your last change, we gotta go”.
But again, I remembered there was no reason to suffer. Fall, the season I just called two posts ago the tastiest of all, is here. So, I grabbed my organic tomatoes, some beautiful squashes, a few eggplants and came home thinking what would be the best way to use them. I know it’s a cliché but I decided I wanted to make vegetable lasagna. I thought “ok, it’s time – at least for me – to leave cold salads aside, stop counting calories and eat a good, rich and warm dish to heat me up”.
Actually, this is a pseudo lasagna because it doesn’t have lasagna noodles in it. They are replaced by the thinly sliced and grilled vegetables, everything put together by a rich roasted tomato sauce and generous portions of mozzarella. At the end it’s still looking like a real one, probably the reason why in Brazil we call it lasagna any way. Hope you like!
Of all the recipes of tomato sauce I made during my live, and that is a lot, this one has been my favorite lately. The roasting process deeps the flavor of the tomatoes and gives you a super rich sauce. Besides, it is super simple to prepare.
Pre heat the oven to 375°F. Cut the tomatoes in half, season with garlic, salt, pepper and sugar. Add the olive oil and mix. Arrange tomatoes in a baking pan with cut side facing up. Add the onion and roast for 35 to 45 min. or until tomatoes are soft and the bottom of the pan starts to caramelize.
Let it cool and puree in a blender until desired consistency. I use the whole tomatoes with skin and seeds but you can strain them if you want a thinner sauce.
Makes enough sauce for two lasagnas.
Start preparing the olive oil – the amount of oil can vary depending on the size of the vegetables, so start using ¼ cup and get a little extra on hand.
In a small bowl, place olive oil, garlic, pepper and oregano. Arrange the slices of eggplant and zucchini in a single layer and season them with salt. With the help of a kitchen brush, brush both sides of each slice with seasoned olive oil and grill them on both sides until fully cooked.
I like to grill whenever I can, I just love to flavor of the grill, it is something unparalleled.
If you can’t, in order to prepare the eggplant and zucchini in the oven season them the same way and roast separately (400ºF) until they are cooked.
Assemble the lasagna. Spread a layer of sauce on the bottom of a 6X8in baking dish. Arrange a layer of eggplant, cover with a thin layer of sauce and sprinkle mozzarella on top. Arrange a layer of zucchini, sauce and mozzarella again. Continue the process alternating layers of eggplant with layers of zucchini until all the ingredients are gone, always ending with a layer of sauce. Heat the oven to 375°F and bake it for 20 minutes, sprinkle more mozzarella on top and bake for extra 5 minutes until the cheese is melted. Serve hot.