Wednesday, April 27, 2011

California Wedding Roasted Veggie and Smoked Cheese Lasagna

Two days ago I posted a recipe for my Brown Rice Jambalaya, which I served at party for my wedding for my family and friends in Louisiana. To continue the theme of posting recipes from important events in my past, here is the recipe for the lasagna that I served at our casual wedding reception in San Francisco.

I wanted to take advantage of the abundant fresh vegetables available in California, and make a family style meal that I could prepare ahead. We had a lot of vegetarian friends, but we wanted a meal that was so bold and flavorful that my husband and I, who aren’t vegetarian, wouldn’t feel like we were missing out on anything on our wedding day.

The tweaks:

The key to this giving this lasagna a rich, meaty flavor is to roast every vegetable that goes into it, and to add smoked cheese and balsamic vinegar to bolster the rich smoky flavor. The lasagna was a hit at the reception with meat-lovers and vegetarians alike, and I even managed not to spill any on my dress!

Roasted Veggie and Smoked Cheese Lasagna 
Roasted vegetables:
3 T olive oi
2 heads garlic
2 eggplants, sliced into 3/4 inch rounds
4 carrots, sliced into coins
1 onion, sliced into rings
3 bell peppers, sliced into strips
1 lb crimini mushrooms, sliced

Roasted garlic-tomato sauce:
¼ tsp. crushed red pepper  

1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
½ tsp. dried basil
¼ tsp. dried oregano
2 28 oz cans crushed fire-roasted tomatoes
Salt and pepper to taste
Approximately 1 tsp brown sugar, to taste 

Remaining ingredients:  
1 16 oz container ricotta
Approx ¼ tsp. garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste
3/4 pound smoked provolone cheese, sliced

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 pack no-boil lasagna noodles, soaked in warm, salted water according to instructions

To roast veggies:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cut heads of garlic in half, coat with olive oil all over, wrap with foil, and roast in oven with other veggies for approximately 20 minutes. Garlic is done when it is tender and slightly browned. Distribute carrots, eggplants, bell peppers, and mushrooms onto two large, rimmed baking sheets. Pour 2 T. extra virgin olive oil and a liberal amount of salt over veggies in each pan and toss to combine. Roast veggies for 25 minutes, turning halfway through, until browned on both sides.

To make sauce:

Simmer sauce ingredients in a saucepan, for about 20 minutes, while garlic and other veggies are roasting. Once garlic is roasted, squeeze into sauce.

To assemble lasagna:

Preheat oven to 375. Mix ricotta with salt and pepper and garlic powder. Spread a thin layer of sauce on bottom of a large lasagna pan. Add layers in the following order, from bottom up: noodles, mixed roasted veggies, sauce, three cheeses, noodles, ricotta, sauce. Repeat until there are four layers of noodles. Top with remaining cheese, and bake, covered with foil, 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake 10 more minutes, or until top is browned and sauce is bubbling.

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