Delia

Roasted Mediterranean Vegetable Lasagne

Baked lasagne is the most practical of dishes – it can be prepared well in advance and needs no more than a shove in the direction of the oven at the appropriate time. But sadly, because of over-exposure, the classic version is no longer the treat it used to be. This recipe follows the basic principles but incorporates the newer, smokier flavours of roasted Mediterranean vegetables. Even if you make it on a dull day, its dazzling colours will still be sunny. Vegetarians might like to know that a vegetarian parmesan-style cheese is available from www.bookhamcheese.co.uk


Serves 4-6

This recipe is taken from Delia Smith’s Summer Collection and Delia's Vegetarian Collection.

Roasted Mediterranean Vegetable Lasagne
Ingredients
 about 9 sheets spinach lasagne (the kind that needs no pre-cooking)
For the filling:
 1 small aubergine
 2 medium courgettes
 1 lb (450 g) cherry tomatoes, skinned
 1 small yellow pepper, de-seeded and cut into 1 inch (2.5 cm) squares
 1 large onion, sliced and cut into 1 inch (2.5 cm) squares
 2 fat cloves garlic, crushed
 2 tablespoons fresh basil, leaves torn so that they stay quite visible
 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
 2 oz (50 g) pitted black olives, chopped
 1 heaped tablespoon capers
 3 oz (75 g) Mozzarella, grated
 salt and freshly milled black pepper
For the sauce:
 1¼ oz (35 g) plain flour
 1½ oz (40 g) butter
 1 pint (570 ml) milk
 1 bay leaf
 grating of fresh nutmeg
 3 level tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiano); see recipe introduction
 salt and freshly milled black pepper
For the topping:
 1 level tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiano); see recipe introductio
 Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 9, 475°F (240°C).
Equipment

You will also need a large, shallow roasting tin and a heatproof baking dish measuring 9 x 9 x 2 inches (23 x 23 x 5 cm).

Method

Prepare the aubergine and courgettes ahead of time by cutting them into 1 inch (2.5 cm) dice, leaving the skins on. Then toss the dice in about a level dessertspoon of salt and pack them into a colander with a plate on top and a heavy weight on top of the plate. Leave them on one side for an hour so that some of the bitter juices drain out.

After that, squeeze out any juices left, and dry the dice thoroughly in a clean cloth. Now arrange the tomatoes, aubergine, courgettes, peppers and onion in the roasting tin, sprinkle with the chopped garlic, basil and olive oil, toss everything around in the oil to get a good coating, and season with salt and pepper. Now place the tin on the highest shelf of the oven for 30-40 minutes or until the vegetables are toasted brown at the edges.

Meanwhile make the sauce by placing all the ingredients (except the cheese) in a small saucepan and whisking continuously over a medium heat until the sauce boils and thickens. Then turn the heat down to its lowest and let the sauce cook for 2 minutes. Now add the grated Parmesan. When the vegetables are done, remove them from the oven and stir in the chopped olives and the capers. Turn the oven down to gas mark 4, 350°F (180°C).

Now, into the baking dish pour one quarter of the sauce, followed by one third of the vegetable mixture. Then sprinkle in a third of the Mozzarella and follow this with a single layer of lasagne sheets. Repeat this process, ending up with a final layer of sauce and a good sprinkling of grated Parmesan. Now place the dish in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the top is crusty and golden. All this needs is a plain lettuce salad with a lemony dressing as an accompaniment.

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