Hello hello, readers! I have a good one for you today and I’m calling it Ratatouille Lasagna. If you saw my last post, the Ratatouille part might sound familiar. That’s because the Ratatouille Sauce I made earlier this week became the star of today’s lasagna. If you’ve never had Ratatouille before, it’s a simple and classic dish of eggplant, zucchini, peppers, tomatoes and onions. Yep, that’s it. Just veggies. A traditional version will consist of alternating layers of the sliced veggies, beautifully arranged in a dish and baked to perfection. But I mixed it up a little bit (pun intended) by turning it into a hearty red sauce bursting with the same flavors. This sauce could be eaten on its own in stew form or served over any number of grains. Or, it could be layered with lasagna noodles and Parmesan cheese, like I did this time.
The inspiration for a casserole-style dish came from Matt’s brother, Mike, who asked me for a casserole recipe, perfect to give to his close friend/mother-to-be. Because sharing food is sharing love, packable, one-dish recipes are great to have on hand, especially ones that are healthy, tasty and hearty. I’m not really sure how I came up with the Ratatouille Lasagna idea because I don’t think I’ve ever seen it done before. Like many recipes, I began brainstorming with a theme in mind (casseroles), and the idea kind of just popped into my head. All I know now is that I love this recipe and that I need to break out my Disney’s Ratatouille DVD (if you haven’t seen it you’re missing out).
As I said, the bulk of this lasagna is my super nutritious (and vegan) Ratatouille Sauce, filled to the brim with huge chunks of veggies and flavorful herbs. Then I layered the hearty sauce with noodles and Parmesan before baking to bubbly amazing-ness. Instead of adding additional cheeses like ricotta and mozzarella, I chose to use only Parmesan to keep this dish on the lighter side. When it comes to hard cheeses like Parmesan or Asiago, a little goes a long way. I’m able to add tons of salty, cheesy flavor and texture without having to pile on mountains of cheese (which sounds incredible, don’t get me wrong).
Not only are casserole-style meals like this great for sharing, but they’re also great as make-ahead-meals. Just cool the lasagna after baking and then freeze or refrigerate for later use. I recommend making this on a day when you’ve got some time and doubling up… one for now, one for later. The idea of delicious pre-prepared meals ready and waiting for long days is a nice thought, especially now that I’m jumping into the unknown and will undoubtedly be busy and exhausted. I think I can safely say that more casserole recipes like this one are in my future.
Serves: 6 Start to Finish: 2 hr 15 min (incl. making the sauce)
1 batch Ratatouille Sauce (get the recipe here)
8 Lasagna Noodles
1 1/4 cups grated Parmesan Cheese
Start by making the ratatouille sauce (get the recipe here). It takes a little over an hour.
When the sauce is almost ready, preheat oven to 375 degrees (F) and bring a large pot of water to boil. When boiling, add about a teaspoon each, salt and olive oil. Add noodles. Cook for 8-9 minutes. Stir gently occasionally to prevent noodles from sticking. Drain and rinse lightly with cold water.
In a lightly oiled casserole dish, add 2 cups sauce and spread evenly to cover bottom of dish. Layer 4 noodles evenly over sauce. Evenly spread 2.5 cups sauce over noodles and sprinkle with 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. Add 4 more noodles, then 3 cups sauce, and finally 3/4 cups Parmesan cheese.
Bake covered with foil for 25-30 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking for another 25-30 minutes or until cheese is becoming brown and crispy around the edges.
* “Lighten Up” refers to recipes that are lighter and leaner versions of the common recipe