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Why This Recipe Works

We wanted a gluten-free vegetable lasagna with tender, flavorful vegetables, great cheese flavor, and a light tomato sauce. To start, we zeroed in on our choice of vegetables and settled on eggplant and yellow squash. Roasting the vegetables intensified their flavor and rid them of excess moisture. But we found that when it comes to making a ­gluten-free version of a classic vegetable lasagna, the biggest challenge was the noodles. As with wheat noodles, you have two options (no-boil and boil-before-use) when selecting among the various gluten-free options. No-boil noodles, a standard in the test kitchen when it comes to making traditional lasagna, failed us in the gluten-free universe. These noodles varied drastically from brand to brand. They came out unevenly cooked, gummy, starchy, or brittle, or they completely disintegrated. Old-fashioned boil-before-use noodles produced more consistent results, with tender noodles that held up in the oven. Still, our preferred noodles were more delicate than the traditional ones, so we made sure to boil them only until just tender. Typical lasagna recipes with no-boil noodles rely on extra liquid in the sauce to soften the noodles. In the case of this lasagna, our ­preboiled noodles would not absorb much moisture during the baking time. For this reason, we had to keep sauciness to a minimum. A bright and simple no-cook tomato sauce of crushed tomatoes, basil, and olive oil bound together the layers with minimal fuss and no excess moisture. Prepared with a classic ricotta filling, this lasagna impressed everyone in the test kitchen.

Ingredients

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Noodles and Vegetables

12 gluten-free lasagna noodles (10 ounces)
Salt and pepper
4 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 pound yellow squash, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

Tomato Sauce and Cheese

1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
¾ cup chopped fresh basil
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper
1 pound (2 cups) whole-milk ricotta cheese
2 ½ ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (1 1/4 cups)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded (2 cups)

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Instructions

Serves 6 to 8

You can use whole-milk or part-skim mozzarella and ricotta in this recipe. Undercooking the vegetables in step 2 is crucial, as they will continue to cook inside the lasagna. Leaving the skins on the eggplant and squash helps keep them intact and prevents them from turning mushy.

1. FOR THE NOODLES AND VEGETABLES: Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add lasagna noodles and 1 tablespoon salt and cook, stirring often, until just tender. Drain noodles, return them to pot, and toss with 1 teaspoon oil. Spread oiled noodles out over baking sheet.

2. Adjust oven rack 6 inches from broiler element and heat broiler. Line rimmed baking sheet with greased aluminum foil. Toss eggplant and squash with remaining 4 tablespoons oil, thyme, pepper flakes, and 3/4 teaspoon salt and spread evenly over prepared baking sheet. Broil vegetables, stirring occasionally, until softened and beginning to brown but still slightly underdone, 15 to 20 minutes; let cool slightly.

3. FOR THE SAUCE AND CHEESE: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Whisk tomatoes, 1/2 cup basil, garlic, oil, pepper flakes, and 1/2 teaspoon salt together in bowl. In separate bowl, combine ricotta, 1 cup Parmesan, egg, remaining 1/4 cup basil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

4. Spread 3/4 cup tomato sauce evenly over bottom of 13 by 9-inch baking dish. Lay 3 noodles in dish and spread 3 tablespoons ricotta mixture over each noodle. Top evenly with 1/2 cup mozzarella, followed by 2 cups roasted vegetables and 3/4 cup tomato sauce. Repeat layering of noodles, ricotta mixture, mozzarella, vegetables, and sauce 2 more times. For final layer, arrange remaining 3 noodles on top and spread remaining ricotta mixture over noodles. Cover completely with remaining sauce, then sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella and remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan.

5. Cover dish tightly with greased aluminum foil. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake until cheese is spotty brown and edges are just bubbling, 20 to 25 minutes longer. Let lasagna cool for 25 to 30 minutes before serving.