There is no reason why a vegetable lasagna made with the classic trio of eggplant, zucchini, and summer squash should be any less satisfying than a meat-based casserole, especially when the produce is in season and locally grown.
But we’ve rarely cooked one that we’ve been moved to make again. Some versions look tempting enough with a topcoat of bubbly cheese and thick tomato gravy, but cutting out a square of it invariably reveals trouble at the core. Often placed between the pasta sheets raw, the zucchini and squash turn out steamy and limp, flooding the dish with their juices—or, in some instances, undercooked and crunchy.
Then there’s the eggplant, which is typically not only soggy, but greasy from pre-frying. Add to that the usual patches of dry, grainy ricotta and it’s a wonder this dish ever became an Italian American standard.
So what would it take to make a full-flavored lasagna with vegetables that could stand up to—not wash out—the cheese and sauce? Ridding the produce of some of its moisture and boosting its flavor before adding it to the dish would be steps in the right direction.