This sumptuous vegetarian aubergine lasagne recipe draws inspiration from the Sicilian Pasta alla Norma. Named in honour of the famed opera ‘Norma’, written by Sicilian-born composer Vincenzo Bellini, Norma sauce features aubergines grown in the outskirts of Catania, a sun-drenched area in the east of Sicily.
In this vegetarian lasagne, our flavoursome aubergine sauce is layered with creamy bechamel, and sheets of fresh, homemade lasagne. Finished with a generous helping of Italian hard cheese, this vegetarian lasagne is a decadent twist on a Sicilian favourite.
Our vegetarian aubergine lasagne recipe
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cooking Time: 70 minutes
Calories per serving: 567kcal
For the aubergine sauce
- 400g tinned chopped tomatoes
- 2 whole aubergines, roughly cubed
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 175ml red wine
- 3tbsps extra virgin olive oil,
- A handful of basil leaves, finely shredded
- ½ tsp sugar
- ½ tsp oregano
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
For the lasagne
- 400g fresh lasagne sheets
- 75g Italian hard cheese to sprinkle over each layer (don’t forget the top!)
For the bèchamel sauce
- 600 ml of milk
- 60g plain flour
- 60g butter
- Generous grating of nutmeg
- Salt and black pepper to season
To make the aubergine sauce
- Place the cubed aubergine on a plate or tray, and generously salt. Set aside for roughly 15 minutes, in order to draw out the moisture.
- In a large pot over medium heat, heat 1tbsp olive oil. Add the onion and carrot, and fry until softened. Add the minced garlic, and continue to sauté until fragrant, being careful not to burn anything.
- Set this mixture aside, then add 2tbsp oil to the pan. While the oil heats, pat the aubergines dry with kitchen paper, before adding the cubes to the pan, in a single layer. Fry the aubergine until golden, for around 5 minutes. You might need to do this in batches, to ensure the pan is not overcrowded.
- Once all the aubergine is cooked, add back the onion, carrot and garlic, as well as a healthy glug of red wine.
- Add the tomatoes, then half fill the empty can with water, and add this to the pan too.
- Add a small amount of sugar, as well as the shredded basil and oregano. Stir to combine, and allow the mixture to simmer for around 30 minutes, until the sauce has thickened, and the aubergine is tender. Once thickened, taste and season with salt and pepper accordingly.
To make your béchamel
- While your aubergine sauce is reducing, melt 60g butter in a saucepan, before adding an equal quantity of flour. Whisk until combined and cook on low heat for 1-2 minutes, until a roux is formed.
- Remove from the heat and gradually add the milk, stirring continuously until thickened. Ensure to add only a splash of milk at a time, as adding too much will result in a lumpy béchamel. Season with nutmeg, salt and black pepper to taste, and set aside.
Watch Roberta making a traditional béchamel sauce in our video guide:
To finish off your lasagne
- To assemble the lasagne, ladle a thin layer of aubergine sauce on the bottom of the baking dish. Top with a layer of lasagne sheets – don’t worry about overlapping sheets here. Follow this with another layer of sauce – be more generous this time; using the back of the spoon push it right to the edge. Follow with a layer of béchamel. Sprinkle over a generous handful of grated hard cheese.
- Repeat these steps (pasta, aubergine sauce, béchamel, and Italian hard cheese) to use up both sauces and pasta. There should be at least 5 layers of pasta and the top should be finished with a generous amount of Italian hard cheese.
- Cook the lasagne for 40 minutes. Our Head Chef Roberta recommends covering your dish with aluminium foil for the first 10-15 mins, to ensure that the lasagne doesn't dry out in the oven.
- Remove from the oven and leave to stand for at least 5 minutes. To serve, slice into equal-sized portions and finish with freshly shaved cheese. Buon appetito.
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