Did you know that I was a vegetarian for 9 years?!
The reason I became a vegetarian: Mad Cow Disease. The reason I went back to eating meat: steak with salt and squeezed lemon juice in Rome.
But here’s to all the vegetarians out there, including my sister who, I think, is on her way of becoming a vegan! A baked vegetable lasagna with homemade bechamel sauce.
Ingredients for a 30cmx20cm baking tray:
– 2 Tbsp olive oil and 1 tsp butter
– 1 cup diced white mushrooms
– 3/4 cup diced zucchini
– 1/2 cup diced carrots
– 1 small onion, chopped
– 2 garlic cloves, minced
– 2 tomato heads, diced
– 1 tsp tomato paste dissolved in 1/4 cup of water
– Salt, black pepper and 2 tsp of Italian seasoning
– 1.5 cups shredded cheese, as usual I use mozzarella and Emmental
– 6 sheets of lasagna, half-cooked
For the bechamel sauce:
– 2 cups milk, hot on the brink of boiling
– 2 Tbps butter
– 3.5 Tbsp flour
– 1 tsp salt and a sprinkle of white pepper
Fry all the vegetables in the olive oil and butter (except the tomatoes). Add the salt and the black pepper and Italian seasoning. Leave the vegetables to cook well for a good ten minutes. Next, add the diced tomatoes and stir well. A few minutes later add the tomato paste in water and let the sauce thicken and the vegetables become very soft.
Preheat the oven to 350F.
In the meantime, start working on the bechamel sauce. Melt the butter in a deep saucepan and add the flour. Whisk well until they form a ball. Off the heat, add the milk batch by batch, whisking non-stop. The sauce should immediately thicken. Add the salt and white pepper. Set the sauce aside.
Now it’s time to start the lasagna. Spread a tablespoon of the bechamel sauce on the bottom of the baking dish (to avoid the pasta to stick to the bottom) and layer 3 sheets of lasagna side by side. Next, spread half the vegetables over the pasta and sprinkle a little bit of the grated cheese over the vegetables. Repeat this layering one more time ending with the vegetables. Now pour the bechamel sauce all over the layering and finish with a generous layer of cheese. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until the cheese totally melts. Broil the top for a few minutes for a crispy and golden effect.
And mamma mia what a finger-licking good lunch we had today!