My wife Lindsay loves lasagna, and frankly, she just might be better at making one than I am! So I’m always trying to up my game. Lighter than the traditional baked pasta dish, Grilled Vegetable Lasagna with Ricotta-Tomato Sauce — loaded with fresh seasonal produce — will be a hit at your next get-together.
Tomatoes taste best in the summer. If you grow your own, great. If not, head to the farmers’ markets where you can find tomatoes of all types, including the ripe plum tomatoes I use in my sauce.
You know that beautiful browning that comes with grilling and roasting vegetables and meats? That’s called the Maillard reaction, which is a chemical reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars that gives browned food its distinctive flavors and enticing aromas. Once the zucchini, eggplant, and peppers hit the heat, you lock in flavor and cook off some of the moisture. To keep lasagna from being watery, assemble the dish using uncooked noodles. The roasted vegetables and tomato sauce will hydrate the noodles, allowing you to lift the perfect slice from your baking dish.
A pinch of patience is needed for this recipe. Make meal prep easier by preparing the sauce and grilled vegetables one day ahead, then cover and refrigerate; reheat the sauce before using. The next day, assemble the lasagna and then just pop it into the oven before your guests arrive.
Grilled Vegetable Lasagna with Ricotta-Tomato Sauce
(Makes 10 servings)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
5 large sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 cups dry white wine
3 1/2 pounds ripe plum tomatoes, cut into ½-inch pieces
3/4 cup part-skim-milk ricotta cheese
1/2 cup very coarsely chopped fresh basil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 zucchini, sliced lengthwise
into 1/4-inch-thick slabs
2 red bell peppers, cored,
1 medium eggplant (about 1 1/4
pounds), stem end trimmed,
sliced lengthwise into 1/4-inch-
12 dried lasagna noodles (about
12 ounces low-fat mozzarella
cheese, shredded (about 3
To make ricotta-tomato sauce: Heat large heavy saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add olive oil, then add onions and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, or until onions are tender. Add thyme, bay leaves, oregano, and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring often, for about 2 minutes, or until fragrant. Add wine, raise heat to high, and boil for about 12 minutes, or until reduced by half.
Stir in tomatoes and season with salt. Bring to simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer gently, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about 50 minutes or until tomatoes are very tender and have broken down to form chunky sauce.
To prepare vegetables: Prepare outdoor grill for medium-high cooking over direct heat.
In small bowl, whisk vinegar and olive oil together and season with salt and pepper. Lay zucchini and bell peppers on large rimmed baking sheet and brush both sides of vegetables with ¼ cup balsamic mixture. Brush remaining balsamic mixture over both sides of eggplant slices.
Transfer vegetables to grill, in batches if necessary, and grill until just tender and slightly charred, about 3 minutes per side for zucchini, and about 4 minutes per side for bell peppers and eggplant. Return vegetables to baking sheets as they are cooked and let cool. Cut bell pepper quarters in half.
When sauce is done, remove pan from heat, then remove and discard bay leaves and thyme stems. Stir in ricotta cheese. Puree half of sauce in blender. Return puree to sauce remaining in pan and stir in basil. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper.
To assemble and bake the lasagna: Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread 1 cup tomato sauce over the bottom of a 13×9×2-inch baking dish. Lay 4 uncooked lasagna noodles over sauce, breaking them to fit (don’t worry if there’s space around noodles, since they will expand as they cook). Lay one-third of grilled vegetables over noodles, then spoon 1½ cups sauce over vegetables and sprinkle one-third of mozzarella cheese over sauce. Repeat layering noodles, vegetables, sauce, and mozzarella cheese one more time. Top with remaining 4 noodles, then spread with 1½ cups sauce. Arrange remaining vegetables on top. Spoon any remaining sauce over vegetables.
Cover baking dish with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil and sprinkle remaining mozzarella cheese over lasagna. Bake, uncovered, for about 30 minutes, or until cheese has melted and lasagna is golden brown on top and heated through (if you insert knife into center of lasagna for 10 seconds, it should feel hot after you pull it out). Let lasagna stand for 15 minutes before serving.
Total Fat: 14 g
Saturated Fat: 2 g
Sodium: 231 mg
Carbohydrate: 11 g
Fiber: 5 g
Protein: 3 g
Diabetic Exchanges: 1 vegetable, 2.5 fat
Pair this delicious dish with Curtis Stone’s Arugula Salad with Avocado, Shallots, and Raspberry Vinaigrette; find the recipe at saturdayeveningpost.com/arugula.
Reprinted from What’s for Dinner? by Curtis Stone. Copyright © 2013 by Curtis Stone. Excerpted with permission of Ballantine Books, a division of Random House LLC. All Rights Reserved; Photos by Quentin Bacon
This article is featured in the July/August 2023 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.
Become a Saturday Evening Post member and enjoy unlimited access. Subscribe now