One thing that hasn’t changed during the COVID-19 pandemic is the need to eat. Staying home has encouraged some to perfect their culinary skills while others have cracked open cookbooks for the first time.
To provide you with some kitchen inspiration, Modern Farmer is asking top chefs what they’ve been cooking while staying isolated. This week we heard from legendary chef, José Andrés, who shared his recipe for vegetable lasagna. In addition to helping feed the world’s hungry during the pandemic, Andrés has been cooking up a storm with his daughters at home. They’ve been challenging themselves to make dishes within the length of a song and sharing videos of the challenge using the hashtag, #recipesforthepeople.
Chef José Andrés. Photo courtesy of ThinkFoodGroup.
Every few days, my daughters and me, we are getting into the kitchen together to cook what we are calling the #recipesforthepeople. We challenge ourselves to make amazing meals using what we have in the pantry (even including all of the old spices that are in the back of the cabinet!). And the even bigger challenge is to be cooking quick dinners, keeping ourselves limited to the time of a single song. We started with the Hamilton soundtrack, and since then we have listened to the amazing Spanish singer Rosalía, my hermanos, O.A.R., and the great Coldplay.
Last week, we made a vegetable lasagna while listening to my good friend Dave Matthews, and it’s now my wife’s new favorite dish! This cooking, it fills us with hope as we can use these moments to be dedicating our recipes to the men and women who are keeping America running: The teachers who are innovating and teaching our children online, the nurses (like my mom and dad) who are saving lives every day, the grocery store workers who are keeping shelves stocked, and the undocumented immigrants who are continuing to work in the fields, picking our vegetables and fruits. This is a difficult time but if we can keep all of the amazing people in our minds and our hearts, and support them in every way imaginable, we will make it through!
Roasted Vegetable Lasagna
The most important thing about this recipe is… there is no need to follow it! If you don’t have eggplant, don’t worry—use more zucchini. No ricotta? Maybe you can try sour cream? Just have fun and make sure to taste and adjust as you cook. Then of course whatever you make will be exactly the way you like it!
1 large zucchini
1 large eggplant
Spanish extra virgin olive oil
1 ½ large cans of tomatoes, or 1 large and 1 small can to make about 42 ounces (or tomato sauce, but canned tomatoes are cheaper)
Spices or herbs (sumac, cumin, oregano, black pepper… the world is in your pantry!)
2 cups ricotta
1 cup shredded parmesan
1 8-ounce box no-boil lasagne noodles
Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Cut the vegetables into ¼” discs, then lay them out on a roasting pan and give them a healthy amount of olive oil. Roast the vegetables for 20-30 minutes until soft. While they’re roasting, make a kind of “raw” tomato sauce—take the canned tomatoes (chop or blend them if they’re whole) and add salt, sumac, cumin, black pepper, any spices that you have in the back of your pantry.
When the vegetables are roasted, it’s time to build the lasagna. In a 9”x13” baking pan, put a layer of your sauce down, then a few no-cook lasagne noodles, then layer on some of the roasted vegetables, some of the ricotta on top, some more sauce. Add another layer of pasta (lay them in a different direction for better structure!) and do it all again: vegetables, ricotta, sauce. When you’re out of vegetables, put a top layer of pasta on top, and finish with the rest of the sauce, any leftover ricotta, and the parmesan. Another glug of olive oil and put it in the oven. Bake it for maybe 15-20 minutes until everything looks golden and bubbling, and BOOM: Roasted vegetable lasagna!