French in a Flash: Roasted Ratatouille Lasagna Napoleons

RECIPE: Roasted Ratatouille Lasagna Napoleons
Roasted Ratatouille Lasagna Napoleons

Roasted Ratatouille Lasagna Napoleons

There is a hole-in-the-wall restaurant in the southern French town of Aix-en-Provence, a little city famed for its quaint charm, fantastic shopping, “typique” markets brimming with olives and purple asparagus and rustic Provençal almond macarons, and leafy, shaded boulevards.

The restaurant is a pizza joint.  I have no clue what it’s called, but we go there every time we’re in town.  Just make a left up the hill at the church with the fountain just past the market in the square.  Somehow we always find it.  And even though it’s a pizza place, we always order the vegetable lasagna.

There are several reasons it’s to die for.  It’s served like a tian, baked in its own individual stone dish in a hot pizza oven.  But the best thing is, it’s so much lighter than the lasagnas we are used to.  After a few bites into the deceptively Italian, bubbly dish, you realize that it’s actually ratatouille sandwiched between layers of pasta, bathing gently in tomato sauce, and blanketed with just one fine layer of cheese gratined like onion soup with mozzarella and Gruyère.  It’s simple and light and so of the earth in Provence that you can’t help but trek around town trying to find it.

This is my version.  I create ratatouille planks: long slices of eggplant, zucchini, yellow bell peppers, red onion, and whole garlic cloves, that I roast with olive oil, chili flakes, and herbes de Provence until they are just slightly charred.  Then I layer them with sheets of fresh pasta, bought or homemade tomato-basil sauce, sun dried tomatoes, fresh thyme, basil, and mint, and a final layer of fresh mozzarella and shredded parmesan.  Sliced into four big rectangles, the dish really becomes a ratatouille and pasta Napoleon, beautifully stratified with that signature vegetal Provençal flavor.  And the best part is, you don’t have to boil the pasta!  Just roast the vegetables, and after that, it’s just a simple assembly job that comes out to be a real stunner.

Roasted Ratatouille Lasagna Napoleon Top

Excerpted from my weekly column French in a Flash on Serious Eats.

Roasted Ratatouille Lasagna Napoleons
serves 4

Roasted Ratatouille Lasagna NapoleonsINGREDIENTS

  • 7 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
  • 1 teaspoon herbes de Provence
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 medium eggplant, sliced into thin, long planks
  • 1 large zucchini, sliced into thin, long planks
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced into thick strips
  • 1/4 red onion, sliced
  • 12 cloves garlic, in their jackets
  • 1 24-ounce jar of marinara sauce
  • 8 fresh lasagna sheets
  • 6 sundried tomatoes in olive oil, chopped
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 15 leaves of fresh basil
  • 10 leaves of fresh mint
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 5 1/2 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

PROCEDURE

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.  On a wide rimmed baking sheet, mix 6 tablespoons of olive oil with the chili flakes, herbes de Provence, salt, and pepper.  Toss all the vegetables and garlic in the olive oil mixture until well coated.  Arrange the vegetables in a single layer on two baking sheets.  Roast for 10 minutes.  Set aside to cool.  Peel the paper off the garlic and discard.  Lower the oven to 350 degrees F.

 

Assemble the lasagna in a 10- by 8 1/2-inch rectangular baking dish.  Spread half a cup of marinara sauce on the bottom of the dish.  Arrange one layer of lasagna sheets on the sauce, trimming as necessary so you have a single layer of noodles.  Top with another 1/2 cup of sauce.  Arrange half of the vegetables and garlic cloves in a single layer on the lasagna sheets.  Add another layer of pasta.  Top with another 1/2 cup of sauce.  Top with the chopped sundried tomatoes.  Layer the second and final layer of vegetables and garlic.  Top with the final layer of pasta.  Top with the remaining marinara sauce.  Add the water to the marinara sauce jar, shake up, and pour over the lasagna.  Gently press everything down to ensure that all the pasta is coated in liquid.

 

Top the lasagna with a layer of fresh herbs.  Then a layer of mozzarella.  Followed by a layer of Parmesan.  Drizzle with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.  Wrap the baking dish in foil, and place on a rimmed baking sheet.  Bake for 30 minutes until bubbly.  Take the foil off the lasagna, and turn the oven back up to 450 degrees F.  Bake for another 5 minutes, until the cheese is golden brown and bubbly.

 

Allow the lasagna to sit for 5 minutes and cool slightly.  Cut into 4 “Napoleons” and serve.

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Categories: 60 Minutes, Easy, Eat, French in a Flash, Main Courses, Recipes, Series, Vegetarian, Vegetarian

9 Responses to French in a Flash: Roasted Ratatouille Lasagna Napoleons

  1. The Roasted Ratatouille Lasagna Napoleons looks very mouthwatering and it would be a delight to have a taste of it. Many people that don’t love cooking would be intimidated by the ingredients. It is such a long list. Nevertheless, it is worth trying to prepare the dish at home especially if you actually enjoy it.

    • Kerry says:

      I would certainly say that if the list of ingredients is too long and intimidating, to just streamline this dish. Use fresh lasagna noodles, bought marinara sauce, one herb, mozzarella, and just zucchini and/or eggplant. Make it in exactly the same way, and you’ll have a simple, but delicious version for sure.

  2. curegirl0421 says:

    Could you do this with boxed lasagna noodles do you think? The no-boil kind? I don’t really have access to fresh lasagna noodles but I would love to try this!

    • Kerry says:

      I think you can. Just rinse out the jar of tomato sauce with a little extra water and add it onto the lasagna, just making sure there is enough moisture to cook the pasta. Let me know if it works!

  3. Nicole says:

    I just made a pan of this, and a pan for my best friend/new mommy, this afternoon and wanted to say THANK YOU THANK YOU! It knocked our socks off, and I look forward to making this again this summer with all of the wonderful fresh vegetables. I also added summer squash and italian sausage. Que magnifique!

  4. Pingback: Pictures from France(Who Are We Kidding: What We Ate) | French Revolution

  5. Julia says:

    This is seriously one of my all-time favorite dishes. :) I first made this over the summer last year and have made it at least four times since. I love this dish.

    I was wondering what were some good side dishes to go with this dish? Or, really, how to make this dinner party ready? I make it for just my husband and myself and we are perfectly happy eating just the napoleons, but somehow in a dinner party setting, it seems like you might need a little bit “more.” Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. :)

    • Kerry says:

      Hi Julia! First off, apologies for taking a few weeks to get back to you. I’ve been under the weather! Second, I’m so thrilled you love this dish. It’s one of my all-time favorites as well–like top five ever, and I’m always making it, especially for my parents, who both tend toward the vegetarian side of things these days.

      As for dinner party readiness, I think there are two approaches. The first is that the napoleons/lasagna is the centerpiece of a vegetarian meal. The second is that it’s the carb/veg side dish.

      For the first approach: I would focus on bringing in room temperatures vegetable dishes (think feast–a spread) with Provençal flavors. So, I’m thinking a really simple fennel slaw with flat leaf parsley, fennel fronds, lemon, olive oil. Bright haricots verts (I think this would go well: http://www.frenchrevolutionfood.com/2012/09/crisp-haricots-verts-salad-with-fresh-tomatoes-and-garlic-for-a-meatless-monday/?section=eat). Charred broccolini with lemon and toasted flaked almonds and almond oil.

      For the second approach, I would either serve it with a protein that’s Provençal-inspired, or just simple. Nothing too saucy. I think a roast lemon chicken could go really well–stuff it with lemons and rosemary for a really South of France flavor. Grilled whole sea bass stuffed with lemons would go as well. I would even do steak topped with tapenade: http://www.frenchrevolutionfood.com/2009/07/french-in-a-flash-sliced-steak-with-chunky-two-olive-tapenade/?section=eat. And then I would add a green salad simply dressed with lemon juice and olive oil, but made from an interesting assortment of lettuces.

      For dessert, I’d keep it simple. A lemon-thyme sorbet, or an almond granita. Something light and refreshing. And if you wanted to do a starter, some ideas would be a tomato-based or pesto-based pot of mussels. Beignets made from zucchini flowers or zucchini with lemon wedges. Or char-grilled artichokes with homemade mayo or aïoli.

      I hope that helps!

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