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Lasagne with Roasted Vegetables and Sausage
extra virgin olive oil
3 mild Italian (parsley and red pepper) sausages
1 large eggplant
2 medium zucchini squash
3/4 cup (a large handful) fresh basil
1 pound white or brown mushrooms
3 handfuls fresh baby spinach leaves, washed and dried
2 cups ricotta
3 onions, white, yellow or red
3-4 cloves fresh, plump garlic
1 small can tomato paste
1 large can crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup good red wine
1 Tablespoon brown sugar or maple syrup
1 box oven-ready egg lasagne pasta
2 cups grated mozzarella
1 cup grated pecorino
1 cup grated parmesan
Heat the oven to 400 degrees F and line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
Slice an eggplant into 1/4 inch-thick rounds, lay the rounds on the baking sheets and prick each round all over with a fork. Sprinkle with kosher salt and let them rest for 15 minutes to allow any bitterness to sweat out. While the eggplant rests, slice 2 medium zucchini into 1/4 inch-thick rounds and lay the rounds on the parchment as you did with the eggplant (if you have a lot of slices you may need to roast in 2 batches). Give everything a quick drizzle of olive oil and slide the pans into the oven. Set the timer for 20 minutes and check now and then to ensure nothing is getting too dark or crispy. You want the rounds to be shimmery, steamy and thinner but not too dark and certainly not papery-thin. Remove the pans from the oven when the vegetables are roasted and allow them to stay on the parchment until you're ready to assemble the lasagne.
Meanwhile heat a few big glugs of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot set on medium heat. Finely chop the onions and garlic and add them to the warm oil along with a few spinkles of kosher salt. Stir to coat. Finely chop the basil and 1 pound of mushrooms and add both to the onions. You may need to add more oil as the mushrooms are quite porous. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue cooking until everything is golden and almost translucent. Add the wine and tomato paste and continue cooking, allowing the vegetables to simmer in the wine-tomato mixture as it reduces, about 15 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes and the brown sugar or maple syrup. Stir well and allow to simmer for at least 20 minutes.
Slice the sausage casings open and remove the contents into a heavy frying pan set on medium heat. Fry just until the pink is gone. Turn the heat off and then, using a small, sharp knife and a fork, thoroughly cut into pea-sized bits.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare another large baking sheet with parchment and place a 9x12 baking dish on top. Oil the pan pan and spread a layer of sauce on the bottom, then place a layer of lasagne noodles on top. Spread another, thinner, layer of sauce on the noddles, then a layer of sausage, a layer of ricotta, a layer of spinach leaves, roasted eggplant, roasted zucchini and a combined sprinkling of the 3 cheeses. Lay another layer of noodles, sauce, sausage, ricotta, vegetables, cheeses and lastly, noodles. Spread a last layer of sauce on top of the noodles and then a layer of the 3 cheeses. Spray a piece of aluminum foil with non-stick spray and cover tightly. Slide the baking sheet into the over and bake for 40 minutes (you'll be glad you used the baking sheet as the lasagne inevitably bubbles over). Remove the foil, increase the heat to 400 degrees F and bake another 20 minutes. Remove and let rest for 15 minutes before serving (with a simple green salad).