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This Tuscan vegetarian lasagna is very special (carnivores will think so too) Creamy béchamel sauce, smoky mozzarella, fresh zucchini, layered with noodles and baked until hot and bubbly. Family friendly, company worthy, so good!

Vegetarian Lasagna with Zucchini, Smoked Mozzarella and Béchamel Sauce


Description

A vegetarian lasagna with creamy white sauce and smoked mozzarella. Family friendly, company worthy, so good!


Ingredients

Scale
  • For The Bechamel Sauce:
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped shallots (3 large shallots)
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 2 medium garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon of chopped fresh thyme leaves plus more fresh thyme for garnishing
  • A pinch of nutmeg (best if you can grate it fresh)
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (I recommend Parmigiano Reggiano)
  • For The Lasagna:
  • 16 ounce box of lasagna noodles (you won't need all the noodles but I like to cook them all in case some break)
  • 4 tablespoons or so of olive oil for sautéing
  • 4 medium zucchini (2 pounds) ends trimmed, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch thick slices, (about 6 slices per zucchini)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 14-16 ounces of smoked mozzarella, shredded (3 cups) You may only find smoked mozzarella in hunks. You can easily shred it using the largest holes on a box grater or your food processor with the shredding blade attached)
  • Garnish:
  • 2 teaspoons of fresh thyme leaves and a few thyme sprigs

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375º F.
  2. Cook The Noodles: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil with 1 tablespoon of salt. Cook the lasagna noodles, following package directions. Drain and lay them out on a tray or baking pan to cool, so they don't stick together.
  3. Make the Béchamel Sauce: You'll need two saucepans. Combine milk and water in one saucepan. Heat until it just starts to steam. Remove from heat. Heat butter in another saucepan, over medium heat until melted. Add shallots and cook for 2 minutes, to soften them. Add the flour and stir constantly for one minute with a wooden spoon. Don't let the mixture brown. Slowly pour in some hot milk while whisking constantly. The mixture will get thick. Slowly add the rest of the hot milk, whisking constantly. The mixture will get thinner. When all the milk is added, squeeze in the garlic with a garlic press, and season the mixture with 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of white pepper and a pinch or two of nutmeg. Add the parmesan cheese while whisking constantly. Continue whisking frequently, over medium heat, for 10-15 minutes, until the sauce thickens to the point where it coats the whisk thickly. Remove from the heat.
  4. Sauté The Zucchini: Line a plate with a double layer of paper towels and have more paper towels handy. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add 6 zucchini slices to the pan or as many as will fit in a single layer. (you'll need to cook the zucchini in batches) Sauté zucchini for about 2 minutes per side, until lightly browned in spots. Transfer to prepared plate. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Repeat in batches, until all the zucchini is browned, adding a sheet of paper towel between batches.
  5. Assemble The Lasagna: Spread about 2/3 cup of bechamel sauce over the bottom of an 8 x 12 x 2 inch casserole. Top with three lasagna noodles. Arrange half of the zucchini over the noodles. Top evenly with half of the mozzarella, then a third of the sauce. Repeat with a layer of three noodles, the rest of the zucchini, the rest of the mozzarella, half the of the remaining sauce. Top with a final layer of noodles and the rest of the sauce.
  6. Bake The Lasagna, uncovered, in the center of the oven for 45 minutes. If you want the top to brown, turn the oven up to broil for the last 3-5 minutes, watching carefully to prevent the top from burning. Remove from the oven and let the lasagna rest for 15 minutes. Sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves and decorate with thyme sprigs, if you like. Serve warm.
  • Prep Time: 30 mins
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Category: Dinner, Casserole
  • Cuisine: Italian