Grilled Garden Vegetable Lasagna With Puttanesca Sauce

Chef Tal Ronnen says that this Grilled Garden Vegetable Lasagna is “an Italian flag on a plate—green pesto, white almond ricotta, and rich red puttanesca sauce. The grilled eggplant, roasted red bell peppers, and zucchini that intermingle with the pasta layers cut down on calories and add nutrition.”

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Basil Pesto or No-Oil Pesto
  • 1/4 cup water or vegetable broth*
  • 6 large fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 4 red or yellow bell peppers
  • 4 large zucchini, sliced on a diagonal about 1/4-inch thick
  • 3 fresh thyme sprigs, leaves stripped from the stems and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 large Italian eggplant, sliced into 1/4-inch thick rounds
  • 1 large onion, sliced into 1/4-inch thick rounds
  • 10 ounces soy mozzarella, shredded (optional)**
  • 1 pound lasagna noodles, cooked in boiling salted water just until al dente, drained, and rinsed
  • Herb Ricotta
  • Puttanesca Sauce
  • Kosher salt (optional) and freshly ground black pepper
  • PREP TIME 30
  • COOK TIME 60
  • Serves 8-12

Directions

  1. Put each pepper directly on a gas burner over high heat and char, turning periodically with tongs, until the skin is wrinkled and blistered on all sides, about 10 minutes. Alternatively, you can roast the peppers using a broiler, turning them occasionally. Put the peppers into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let them steam for about 10 minutes to loosen the skins.
  2. Pull out the cores of the peppers and remove the seeds. Pull off and discard the blackened skin. Dip your fingers in water as you work to keep the charred bits from sticking. Cut the roasted peppers into 1/2-inch wide strips and put in a large mixing bowl, along with any juices that have collected. Add the sliced zucchini, eggplant, and onion, tossing to combine.
  3. Combine water*, basil, thyme, garlic, and shallot in a small bowl or measuring cup, season with salt and pepper, and whisk to blend. Pour the marinade over the vegetables, tossing to coat evenly. Set aside for 10 minutes so the vegetables can soak up the flavor.
  4. Preheat an outdoor grill to medium-high heat. Alternatively, preheat the broiler.
  5. Arrange the peppers, zucchini, eggplant, and onion on the grill or grill pan (if using a grill pan, you will have to do this in batches) and grill, turning the vegetables once, until they are tender and lightly browned and have released most of their moisture, about 5 minutes per side. Or, if using the broiler, arrange the vegetables in a single layer on two nonstick baking sheets and broil in 2 batches. Set the vegetables aside.
  6. Mix together the herb ricotta and 1 cup of the basil pesto in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Once you have the sauce ready, the vegetables grilled, and the filling made, you can start assembling the lasagna. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  8. Ladle about 1 cup of the sauce into a 9×13-inch baking dish, to just cover the bottom. Slightly overlap 6 lasagna noodles crosswise so they completely cover the bottom of the dish, with no gaps. Top the noodles with one-third of the ricotta-pesto mixture, spreading it evenly with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle 1 cup of the soy mozzarella** over the ricotta. Add one-third of the roasted peppers, zucchini, eggplant, and onion in an even layer on top. Repeat the process, layering sauce, lasagna noodles, ricotta-pesto, soy mozzarella**, and vegetables 2 more times. Finally, top with the remaining 6 lasagna noodles and sauce.
  9. Cover the lasagna with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until bubbly. Remove the foil and top the lasagna with the remaining 1 cup soy mozzarella**. Bake for another 5 minutes, or until the cheese has melted. Allow the lasagna to cool for 10 minutes before cutting into 8 squares.
  10. To serve: Divide the remaining 1 cup pesto among eight to twelve plates, spreading it out with the back of a spoon. Set a lasagna square on top.

*The original recipe calls for extra-virgin olive oil.

**To avoid oil and reduce fat in the dish, remove the soy mozzarella.

Excerpted from Crossroads by Tal Ronnen with Scot Jones (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2015. Photographs by Lisa Romerein.