Traditional lasagne are supposed to feature meat sauce inside (ragù, also known as Bolognese sauce), but what to do when you want to prepare lasagne for a vegetarian? My favourite pasta dish is pasta with eggplant sauce, and that sauce works very well also in a lasagna. This is what I prepared with my vegetarian friend the other day.
- 1 large eggplant
- 1 can of diced tomatoes
- 500 ml tomato sauce
- oregano and salt to taste
- 1 tbsp olive oil
Dice the eggplant in approximately 1-cm cubes. In a large saucepan, heat up the olive oil, add the diced eggplant and stir fry it on medium heat, moving the pieces around constantly, in order to prevent them from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Add some salt and keep stirring, for approximately 5 minutes. The eggplants don’t need to be cooked through before adding the tomatoes, but I like to make sure they are all a little cooked on the outside. Then, add the diced and crushed tomatoes. I usually rinse the cans with a little water and pour that into the pot as well, just to make sure no tomato sauce is wasted. Add some more salt and the oregano, lower the heat and let the sauce cook, lid on, stirring from time to time (every 10-15 minutes) for 1 hour on small heat. In the end, the tomato sauce should thicken, as some of the water will have evaporated, and the eggplant pieces will have almost disintegrated.
To make my vegetarian lasagna I used fresh lasagne, bechamel, eggplant sauce and grated parmigiano. The eggplant sauce simply substitutes the classic meat sauce, but the layering stays the same: lay the lasagne sheets, spread the sauce, pour some bechamel, sprinkle the parmesan and on to the next layer. Usually, I spread plain bechamel on the bottom of the casserole pan and then lay the first layer of lasagne sheets on that, to ensure some moisture also on the bottom (otherwise the bottom layer might not cook properly and just stick to the casserole and burn). If using an oval casserole like I did, it will be necessary to cut out the corners of the pasta sheets and arrange them creatively to make even layers.
Pour a more generous amount of bechamel over the last layer and add a greater quantity of parmesan over it, to ensure that the top layer of lasagne will cook nicely under a thick layer of sauce, and will not dry out and burn in the oven.
Bake at 200°C for about 35 minutes, or until the parmesan has turned into a golden crust. Let it cool down for about 15-20 minutes before serving, this will allow it to set and make the dish easier to cut and portion.