This vegetarian lasagna recipe comes from the rolling hills of Tuscany. Creamy béchamel sauce, smoky mozzarella cheese and fresh summer zucchini are a stellar trio, lasagna with white sauce, at its best.
I could give you a recap of our family vacation to Italy based on the food we ate in each city, each town, each square. It was all so incredibly delicious and memorable...but don't worry, I won't. At least not all in one post. I'll just start with the mouthwatering vegetarian lasagna we enjoyed in the hilltop town of Radicondoli, at a wonderful restaurant called Agriteca In Piazza.
Everything was delicious at that restaurant but the smoky, creamy, tender vegetarian lasagna was the star dish of the evening. I got as much info as I could get out of the waiter: cooked lasagna noodles, fresh zucchini, smoked mozzarella shipped in from a local farm, béchamel sauce infused with extra smokiness by adding some of the smoky liquid that the mozzarella sits in. That the info I used (plus lots of recipe testing) to recreate that incredible dish.
The recipe is as easy as lasagna can be. Cook the noodles. Shred the cheese. Sauté the zucchini. Make the sauce....
Layer it all up and bake it.
A few words about this béchamel sauce. You probably think of béchamel as a French sauce, but balsamella (as it is called in Italian) is used in many Italian dishes, especially lasagnas. One essential difference between the French and Italian béchamel sauces is that the French roux (flour and butter mixture) is browned and the Italian roux is not.
My spin on this Italian béchamel is to add a good amount of shallots, garlic and parmesan cheese to the mix. You will not believe how creamy and delicious it is, especially when it's hot and mixed with noodles and melted smoked mozzarella.... This is vegetarian lasagna that will make carnivores happy too.
As a whole, the food in Tuscany is spectacular. The recipes are simple and rustic and made from exceptionally high quality local produce, incredible artisan cheeses and meats. And of course all meals are accompanied with delicious local wine, flowing generously. "Use the best ingredients and exalt them." That's the advice I once got from a well-know Italian chef. I think about that line often and especially as we munched our way through Tuscany.
I'm excited to recreate more of our favorite recipes from the trip. For now, here's the recipe for Tuscan Vegetarian Lasagna. I hope you try it! And if you do, please come back to leave a review and let me know how you like it.Print