A vegetarian pasta from British chef Jane Hornby. "Summer's answer to a full-on meaty lasagna, this ricotta and zucchini (courgette) combination is simple to put together and ideal for a relaxed meal in the garden. If you don't have time to make your own roasted tomato and bell pepper sauce, then use about 2 cups from a jar."
10 large plum or round ripe tomatoes, about 2-1/4 lb.
3 red bell peppers
1 handful fresh oregano
6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 stems celery
2 cloves garlic
5 zucchini (courgettes)
1 lb. 2 oz. ricotta
4 tbsp mascarpone cheese (optional)
2 oz. Parmesan, or other tasty hard cheese such as cheddar
1 whole nutmeg, for grating
About 6 fresh lasagna sheets, the exact number will depend on the size of your baking dish*
1 handful pine nuts
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Fresh salad, to serve (optional)
* Fresh lasagna sheets are quicker to cook and easy to use, but to use dried lasagna, simply bring a large pan of water to a boil, then add the sheets and stir. Boil for about 5 minutes, until softened but not cooked through. Lift out and drain, then toss with a little oil.
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Step 2: Reserve two tomatoes then cut the rest in half. Peel the skins from the bell peppers using a vegetable peeler, then cut the peppers in half and remove the seeds and white membranes. Don't worry about peeling any fiddly bits you can't get to, this just helps the bell peppers cook more quickly and avoid messy peeling later on.
Step 3: Spread the tomatoes and peppers, cut side up, over two baking sheets (nonstick is best, if you have them). Sprinkle with some of the oregano leaves and plenty of salt and pepper. Drizzle with 3 tbsp of the oil, then roast for 45-60 minutes, or until softened, golden and starting to shrink.
Step 4: While the tomatoes and peppers roast, continue with the zucchini (courgette) layer. Finely chop the celery and onion. Heat the remaining oil in a large skillet or frying pan, add the celery and onion, season with salt and pepper, then cover with a lid and let soften gently for 10 minutes. Covering the pan like this will part-steam the vegetables and is the best way to get celery to sweeten and soften quickly.
Step 5: Thinly slice the garlic and coarsely grate the zucchini. When the vegetables have softened, turn up the heat and stir in the zucchini. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring often, until the zucchini is bright green and the pan is fairly dry. Stir in the garlic, cook for a minute more, then remove the pan form the heat.
Step 6: Stir in 2/3 of the ricotta, all the mascarpone, if using, and half of the Parmesan, then season to taste with salt, pepper, and 1/4 tsp finely grated nutmeg.
Step 7: When the tomatoes and bell peppers are ready, put them into a food processor or use an immersion (stick) blender and process to a thick sauce. Slice the reserved tomatoes.
Step 8: Build the lasagna. Start by spooning half the zucchini into a large baking dish. Top with a layer of lasagna sheets, then spoon half of the tomato sauce over them. Repeat the layers, finishing with tomato sauce. Cover with the sliced tomatoes, remaining ricotta, then the pine nuts and more oregano. It can be covered with plastic wrap and chilled for up to 24 hours at this point.
Step 9: Bake the lasagna until golden and bubbling at the edges. This will only take about 30 minutes if you have followed all the steps consecutively, as most of the layers will still be warm. If cooking from cold, add 15 minutes to the cooking time, covering with aluminum foil until halfway through. Serve with a fresh salad.
See more recipes from Jane Hornby.
Reprinted with permission from Jane Hornby's Fresh & Easy: What to Cook and How to Cook It (2012 Phaidon).