One who reads guidebooks about Lebanon will no doubt be informed of all the civilizations that the country has experienced: Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans ( hundreds of temples left behind) to name but a few; and of course the Ottoman presence which lasted a few centuries.
However, there is no mention of the more recent Italian influence in Lebanon (about two hundred year-old) especially in architecture. In traditional homes, interior columns were made with marble imported from Italy. Ceilings painted by Italian artists. Doors and windows carved by Italian carpenters.
I had a vague notion of this fact, but got a tangible proof when I took my daughter to her language school (she is taking a course in urban Arabic). There, right on the door, was the word Trieste 1831.
All of that to point out that Lebanese folks love the Italians and love especially Italian cuisine these days.
Hence the inspiration for this white lasagne, made with roasted eggplants and zucchini, smothered in white sauce and flavored with fresh basil.
- 12 to 18 sheets of white lasagne pasta
- 1 1/2 pounds of eggplant
- 1 1/2 pounds of zucchini
- 12 ounces of grated parmesan (fresh if possible)
- white sauce: 3 cups of milk
- 6 tablespoons of butter
- 1/2 cup of flour +2 tablespoons
- dash of nutmeg, white pepper, salt
- one fresh bunch of basil, chopped up
- olive oil as needed
- Clean and slice the eggplants and zucchinis. Sprinkle with salt and set aside for one hour. Wipe them clean and slather with olive oil; roast in the oven, flipping to the other side, till well done and browned in spots. Set aside.
- Make the white sauce; heat the milk in the microwave till scalding. Melt the butter, stir the flour in and when the mixture is well mixed and bubbles up, add the milk in small increments, stirring constantly, till thickened and smooth. Add a dash of nutmeg and white pepper.
- Boil the lasagne noodles till halfway done; butter the pan and start layering the veggies first; add some basil and a row of pasta sheets. then a few ladles of white sauce, sprinkled with parmesan cheese. Layer again with veggies, add the chopped basil, adding two layers of veggies if necessary and finally one layer of pasta, the sauce and a generous sprinkling of parmesan. Add to the top layer a few tablespoons of cream or butter and bake in a preheated oven at 350F for about 30 minutes until the lasagne is cooked and the top is browned in parts and puffed up. Sprinkle with some chopped basil and serve.