The bright green basil pops against the red tomato sauce.

I decided to make the Vegetable Lasagna pretty early in the challenge because it looked to be the most involved recipe in this issue of Cook’s Illustrated and I wanted to get it out of the way. It was extremely fussy, but it was quite tasty.

Look at this list of ingredients. Guh. Can you see why I wanted to get the lasagna out of the way?

Following are my notes on the experience:

Hard labor: It took MVH and I about three hours between the two of us to get the lasagna ready for the oven. Now, between the two of us we also were caring for a baby. If you’ve ever tried to make lasagna and watch a baby, you understand why it took us three hours.

A tale of two sauces: The recipe calls for making “No-Cook Tomato Sauce” and “No-Cook Cream Sauce.” The tomato sauce was bright and tangy, and the cream sauce was thick and salty (in a good way). I plan to make these sauces on their own for other meals.

That’s a lot of liquid.

Not watery? Not likely: The recipe advertises promises not-watery lasagna, and this primarily is achieved by dehydrating eggplant in the microwave until it’s dry to the touch — about 10 minutes, according to the directions. Our eggplant was microwaved at least 25 minutes, and it never got there. I don’t know if it was our microwave, the fact that we weren’t using the recommended coffee filters (we used paper towels instead to capture moisture, and they were swapped at least once), or some other factor. Maybe we should have microwaved the chopped eggplant in shifts. I dunno.

In the end, the lasagna was quite watery, but it never was watery tasting. I think using frozen spinach and wringing it out would have eliminated more water; I was scratching my head over why a cook should use fresh spinach in a recipe that she’s trying to dry out.

Garden fresh: The lasagna had a very gardeny taste to it. I usually don’t think of lasagna as a summery dish, but this recipe tastes ripe. I especially liked the addition of chopped kalamata olives. They provided a meaty chew.

Leftovers diary: I had one serving on day one; MVH had two. We each had one more serving for the next three days. (A tray of lasagna goes a long way with two people.) The leftovers were less watery.

Ready to dine.

Encore? I definitely would make the sauces again, but I’m in no hurry to make the lasagna once more. Even if Paul weren’t a factor, it still was a little too time consuming for the amount that I liked it. Plus the failed eggplant dehydration made me grouchy.

I love veggies, so it’s not the meatlessness of the lasagna that bothers me. I think its taste is better than a lot of meatful lasagna. I guess when I put that much work into a dish, I want to have my mind blown by how tasty it is, and when that doesn’t happen, I’m kind of melancholy. Does this happen to you?