This rustic version of classic lasagna is made with dried lasagna noodles; but if you own a pasta machine, by all means use it to make fresh lasagna noodles. The vegetable are made with broiled eggplant and red peppers. Delicious!
Preheat broiler. Line a large baking sheet with foil. Place bell peppers on prepared baking sheet. Broil until skins are charred and blistered, 10 to 15 minutes, turning once. Transfer peppers to a plastic or brown paper bag, seal, and let stand for 10 to 15 minutes. Peel skins from peppers and cut in half lengthwise. Remove and discard stems and seeds. Cut peppers lengthwise into 1 inch wide strips. Set aside.
Meanwhile, trim unpeeled eggplant and cut lengthwise into ½ inch thick slices. Re-line baking sheet with foil. Place eggplant slices in a single layer on prepared baking sheet. Broil 3 to 4 inches from heat source until lightly browned, 6 to 8 minutes, turning once. Remove from oven and set aside.
TO MAKE SAUCE: In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and sauté until onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Add beef and cook, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon, for about 10 minutes, until no longer pink. Discard all fat. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, water, wine, herbs, salt, if desired, and pepper until blended. Simmer, uncovered, until sauce begins to thicken, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook noodles according to package directions. Drain well, rinse in cold water, and drain again.
Spoon 1 cup meat sauce evenly over bottom of a 16 x 12 inch casserole. Arrange one- third of noodles over sauce. Arrange half of eggplant slices and half of bell pepper strips over noodles. Gently spread one- third of remaining meat sauce over vegetables. Top with one -third of ricotta, then one- third of mozzarella. Repeat layers once. Top with remaining noodles, remaining sauce, and remaining ricotta and mozzarella. Sprinkle with Parmesan.
Preheat oven to 350°F Bake, uncovered, for 30 to 40 minutes, until filling is bubbly and lasagna is heated through. Remove oven and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes before cutting into squares. Makes 12 servings.
ADVANCE PREPARATION: Lasagna may be made ahead through step 5, covered tightly, and refrigerated overnight or up to 24 hours. Bring to room temperature before baking.
Heartland Cooking Casseroles Traditional American Recipes.