Very Veggie Lasagna
This crowd-pleasing lasagna is chock-full of all your favorite veggies: mushrooms, onions, broccoli, carrots, red, yellow and green bell peppers, yellow squash, and zucchini! Whew!
Position rack in center of oven and preheat the oven to 375°F.
In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, basil, thyme, parsley, extra-virgin olive oil, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of the black pepper. Stir to combine and set aside.
In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, onion, and Italian Essence and cook, stirring, until the onions are soft and the mushrooms are wilted and have released their juices, about 5 minutes.
Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
Add all the remaining vegetables except the tomatoes, and cook, stirring, until they start to soften, about 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, using your fingers, crush the tomatoes into pieces.
Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, and sugar to the pot, and cook, stirring, until thick and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 15 minutes.
Add the remaining teaspoon of salt and remaining 1/2 teaspoon of pepper and stir well.
Remove the pot from the heat.
Spread 3 cups of the tomato-vegetable sauce evenly over the bottom of a large roasting pan. Arrange one layer of lasagna noodles on top, being careful not to overlap them.
Spoon 1 cup of the ricotta cheese mixture over the noodles, spreading evenly with a rubber spatula.
Sprinkle 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese evenly over the ricotta.
Repeat the layering with the remaining ingredients, for a total of 3 complete layers, ending with the remaining 2 cups of mozzarella cheese on top.
Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over the mozzarella cheese.
Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 1 1/2 hours.
Using oven mitts or pot holders, carefully remove the pan from the oven and remove the foil. Do not remove the foil with bare fingers.
Using oven mitts or pot holders, return the pan to the oven and bake the lasagna until golden brown and bubbly, about 15 minutes.
Using oven mitts or pot holders, remove the lasagna from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes before serving.
YIELD: 10 servings