Warm, cheesy, comforting lasagna may not be the first dish that comes to mind when thinking about dinner at a retreat center, but we got requests for this vegetarian version all the time at Ratna Ling. On a rainy, windy winter night after a full day of yoga it really makes for a lot of smiling faces in our big dining room with the roaring fireplace. It only takes an hour or so to put this recipe together yet we like to start early in the afternoon to go at a relaxed pace. Maybe we’ll find some mushrooms or other vegetables to saute and add as a surprise layer in the lasagna. It’s fun to get creative! And sometimes we put this lasagna in the oven covered with aluminum foil or a baking sheet at a lower temperature and then go off to an hour long yoga class. When we return the cover comes off for the final ten minutes or so to create a nice, light brown crust over the bubbling sauce, cheeses and soft pasta noodles. Bravissimo!

Tomato sauce Ingredients

4 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions, diced
2 green bell peppers, diced
2 red bell peppers, diced
8 teaspoons Italian seasoning
12 cloves garlic, minced
2 (28-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
2 (6-ounce) cans tomato paste
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup or honey
3 teaspoons Himalayan or other good salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup minced fresh parsley

Vegetarian lasagna ingredients

Tomato sauce (above)
2 pounds (32 ounces) oven ready lasagna noodles
3 eggs
1 15-ounce tub (about 1 3/4 cups) whole milk ricotta cheese
2 cups freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 pounds whole milk mozzarella cheese, grated
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper
2 pounds provolone cheese, grated

 

Directions

Add the olive oil to a large pan over medium heat. When hot, add the onion, bell peppers, and Italian seasoning. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and translucent and the pepper is tender, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for one additional minute.

Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, maple syrup or honey, salt, and pepper.

Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat, until the sauce comes to a boil. Turn the heat to low, partially cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the parsley, then remove from the heat.

Make the lasagna…

Heat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a large baking pan cover the bottom with a thin layer of sauce. Add a single layer of pasta, breaking to fit as needed. In a large bowl beat the eggs and mix together with the ricotta, 1 cup of the parmesan, a large handful of mozzarella, Italian seasoning, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Spoon half of the ricotta mix all over the noodles in little mounds. Top with 1/3 of the remaining sauce. Sprinkle on half of the mozzarella.

Repeat with a layer of pasta, then the rest of the ricotta mix, then another third of the sauce, then the provolone.

Add a last layer of pasta and spread the remaining sauce over the top. Sprinkle atop the parmesan and cover with remaining mozzarella.

Bake until bubbly and melty and the pasta is tender, about 45 minutes. If the top begins to get brown, cover with foil during the last 10 minutes or so of baking.

Remove from oven and let rest for 5-10 minutes. Cut into 3 to 4 inch squares and serve.