As an avid Masterchef Australia fan I sat drooling as Neil Perry demonstrated this dish on their trip to Italy. Knowing that I would not get that kind of produce here in South Africa, I loved what it looked like so much that I decided to just try it here with what we have, which really is not that bad! Being a meat free dish I had to wait until my teenager was at school to attempt it. which meant that I had to do it on a week night. I would not recommend that as it takes a while to make! But PLEASE do try it!! It will be absolutely perfect for a Saturday night date night with a gorgeous bottle of wine or as a Sunday lunch.
I accidentally bought the Verde (green) lasagne sheets, but it was a good mistake as it added lovely colour and I will do it again with the green lasagne. I also cheated a bit (with it being a Monday night) by using bottled roasted red peppers which you can get at a deli shop and are gorgeous and worked so well. So you can take a little shortcut there if you like.
Here in South Africa we don’t have beautiful big sweet vine ripened tomatoes, but we have small ones, about the size of cherry tomatoes. So I used those as they are sweeter. My sieve is very fine so I could not pass it through a sieve at the end of the tomato sauce process. But you could pop the skins off with your fingers once they have cooked and cooled down and chop them up roughly. I left the skins on and it was still AMAZING!
I also didn’t have separate ceramic dishes, so I used a bread tin which worked so well and just carefully sliced through for individual portions. Use a sharp knife!
I will make this again and again. It is gorgeous and tasty and homey and comforting! Ah! Just too good. Thank you Neil Perry! What a winner dish! 🙂
3 red peppers, quartered and seeded
2 tablespoons pure olive oil
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
Salt and pepper to season
Parmesan cheese sauce
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon plain flour
Pinch sea salt
Pinch freshly ground white pepper, to taste
125g coarsely grated parmigiano reggiano
1 egg, lightly beaten
Roast tomato sauce
750g vine ripened tomatoes, quartered
40ml extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 small red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh marjoram, chopped
300g eggplant, cut into 5mm slices
400g baby marrow, cut into 5mm slices
300g roasted red pepper (about 8 pieces) (see recipe above)
250g dried lasagne sheets
300g parmesan cheese sauce (see recipe above)
- Preheat oven to 220°C.
- For the roast red pepper; Place red peppers and olive oil in a large bowl, season with thyme, salt and pepper. Place cut side down on a baking paper-lined oven tray and roast for 20-30 minutes or until blistered. Transfer to a bowl and cover tightly with cling film. Stand for 5 minutes to loosen skin. Peel and discard skin.
- For parmesan cheese sauce; Melt butter in medium saucepan, stir in flour; cook stirring for 1 minute. Add salt and pepper and gradually add milk, whisk until slightly thickened. Remove from heat, cool slightly. Add parmesan and ricotta and mix through.
- Stir in egg until combined. Season to taste. Cover with a round of baking paper so a skin doesn’t form.
- Preheat oven to 140°C.
- For roast tomato sauce; place quartered tomatoes, skin side down in a roasting pan, drizzle with 20ml olive oil and scatter with oregano, margoram, salt and pepper. Slow roast for 1½-2 hours or until slightly dehydrated. Cool slightly.
- Heat remaining 20ml olive oil in a saucepan; add onion, garlic and a pinch of salt and cook over low heat for 10-15 minutes or until onion is translucent.
- Chop tomatoes into 5mm dice, add to onion mixture with any juices and cook over medium heat until sauce is slightly thickened. If too thick add a little water; pass through a moulis or sieve to remove skin and seeds. Check seasoning and consistency, add a little extra olive oil and some pepper if desired.
- Place eggplant in a colander, toss with 5g sea salt and stand over a bowl to drain for 30 minutes. Rinse under cold water and pat dry. Brush both sides with a little olive oil and sear in a hot frying pan 1-2 minutes each side or until golden and tender. Remove to a board.
- Brush baby marrow with a little olive oil and sear on both sides in the hot pan until baby marrow is golden and tender. Remove to board and trim vegetables to fit dish.
- Bring a saucepan of water to the boil and cook lasagne sheets to almost al dente. Refresh in iced water and drain well. Cut pasta sheets into rectangles to fit dish.
- Lightly grease four 2-cup capacity (12x8cm ceramic dishes) with a little olive oil, line base and 2 long sides with a sheet of baking paper extending 3cm above both long sides.
- To assemble, place a piece of eggplant in the base of prepared dish, followed by a piece of pasta. Spread with parmesan cheese sauce, then top with a piece of roasted red pepper, then top with about 2 strips of baby marrow, then a piece of roasted red pepper, followed by another pasta sheet, then parmesan cheese sauce and finally place another 2 strips of baby marrow. Fold baking paper over and cover with foil.
- Repeat this process with the remaining lasagne. Bake at 180°C for 20 minutes until lasagne is tender.
Recipe by Neil Perry