Veggie Lasagna

I’ve adapted this recipe from one that uses a beef ragu. If you would like it with some meat, replace the eggplant and mushrooms with a pound of ground beef. Truthfully, you’d be hard pressed to tell them apart.

Ingredients

For the ragu…
2 tablespoons oil
3/8 cup celery (~3 stalks), finely chopped
3/8 cup onion (~1 medium onion), finely chopped
3/8 cup carrot (~2 carrots), finely chopped
1 eggplant, peeled and finely chopped
6 ounces fresh mushrooms, finely chopped
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1 19-ounce can tomatoes, pureed

For the béchamel…
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
1 quart milk
1/2 teaspoon fresh nutmeg

Lasagna noodles, cooked and rinsed in cold water
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Directions

Let’s start with the ragu.

To chop all of the vegetables, I use my food processor (the kweez). It can save you a TON of work. I like the celery, onion and carrot chopped very finely, so that it makes thick paste. The eggplant and mushrooms can be a little bigger, to give your ragu some texture.

In a large skillet or wide bottom pot, sauté the carrots, onion and celery in the oil for about 15 minutes, until they are well browned.

Add the eggplant and mushroom and sauté it some more — you want to brown everything well.
Pour in the wine and the stock and cook everything until all the liquid has evaporated.

Add the puréed tomatoes, stir and simmer until almost all of the liquid is gone, about 30 minutes. Don’t forget to give it a little salt and pepper. That’s it for the ragu.

While your ragu is cooking, make the béchamel. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add in the flour and stir vigorously with a whisk. Let the flour cook in the butter until it has browned a little and tastes nutty. Remove this mixture (it’s called a "roux") and heat up the milk. When it’s good and hot, add the nutmeg and mix in the roux. Stir the thickened mixture well.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

I make my lasagna in a 9" x 12" pan, but you can use whatever you like. Place a ladle of béchamel and a ladle of the ragu in the bottom of the pan. Mix it all together and spread it over the bottom. Now, line the bottom and sides of the pan with lasagna noodles. Pour a ladle full of béchamel and a ladle full of ragu. Mix it together and spread it around. Cover with some lasagna noodles. Guess what? Keep doing this until you run out of noodles, ragu or béchamel.
Top the last layer of noodles with a final layer of béchamel and ragu, and a healthy (or unhealthy?) amount of freshly grated Parmesan.