We haven't seen a nice lasagna on these screens for too long now! And lasagna, as you well know, is a feast day food, that smell of conviviality and Sundays at home. And I want to continue giving you recipes for lasagnas different from the traditional one (here in Italy everyone has his own version of it: I consider "traditional" the one with meat sauce -ragù, béchamel, mozzarella and Parmigiano cheese … but I know versions with the addition of ham, peas, boiled eggs, meatballs, salami and so on), so I present to you –again– a vegetarian version, but this time dressed in red (not dressed in green, like the last time)!
CURLY HARD WHEAT LASAGNA WITH EGGPLANT SAUCE AND SMOKED SCAMORZA
Ingredients (4 of 6 servings, depending on whether you consider it a single course or a first course)
For the eggplant sauce
* Extra-virgin olive oil
* Chopped onion, carrot and celery
* A big eggplant, peeled and diced
* 400 g tomato puree (or peeled tomatoes, or tomato pulp, as you prefer)
* Chili pepper (optional)
For the béchamel
* 20 g all-purpose flour
* 20 g unsalted butter
* 250 milk
For composing lasagna
* 500 g curly hard wheat lasagna sheets (probably you won't use all lasagna sheets: cook them two or three at a time, so they don't go to waste)… I used Garofalo's ones
* 200 g smoked scamorza (more or less)
* Grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (optional)
Let's start with the eggplant sauce: in a high edges pan put a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil to and, when hot, add chopped carrot, onion and celery to brown. Once they have softened, add the diced eggplant and let it cook for a few minutes. Add the tomatoes puree (or peeled tomatoes, or tomato pulp), season with salt and chili pepper and let it simmer for at least an hour, or until the sauce is cooked and dried just to the right point.
Now prepare béchamel: in a saucepan heat the milk, while in another one (thick bottomed) melt the butter and mix it together with the flour for a minute. Then add the warm milk to the butter-flour mixture and mix it with a whisk, in order to avoid creating lumps; season with salt and nutmeg and stir constantly, until the béchamel is creamy. Set aside.
When you have the eggplant sauce and the béchamel, it's time to start cooking some lasagna sheets (as hard wheat -about 20 minutes cooking, you have to cook them in salt water, keeping them slightly underdone, before putting them in the oven). Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, then put two or three lasagna sheets at a time in boiling water and cook them for 8 or 9 minutes (they should soften up and still remaining underdone). While the sheets cook, take an oven dish and sprinkle its bottom with a dipper of eggplant sauce.
Preheat oven to 390°F (200°C)
Now proceed in this order: lasagna sheets (I suggested to cook them 2 or 3 at a time, but you can do as you like), eggplant sauce, smoked scamorza, béchamel and grated Parmigiano cheese, until ingredients exhaustion, making sure to end with a sauce layer (eggplant sauce, smoked scamorza, béchamel and Parmigiano cheese), so that you have a nice, crispy crust, but lasagna won't dry too much.
Once you have your lasagna (mine had "only" three layers, but they were "intense"), bake it in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown.
What can I say? So much for traditional cuisine supporters, no matter what!