Q: I would be thrilled to have the recipe for the Vegetable Lasagna from Scape in the Central West End. It is absolutely divine.
— Vickie Dankenbring, St. Louis
A: Scape's executive chef Eric Kelly has witnessed an enormous upswing in the call for vegetarian fare. "Fifteen years ago, a restaurant would get one request a week. Ten years ago, it was two or three times a week. Now it's 10 times a night." With such high demand, Kelly says, vegetarian dishes can no longer be an afterthought.
Scape has perfected all 15 layers of its Vegetable Lasagna, all vegan, all raw. It is assembled in what's called a "terrine" — an elongated loaf pan, often ceramic — and served chilled with a velvety corn sauce. With layer upon layer of flavor, color and texture, the dish is impressive on the plate and memorable to the palate.
Joe Smothers, who supervises Scape's prep kitchen, makes the Vegetable Lasagna up to five times a week. Once everything's in place, he can assemble one in about 20 minutes. But getting everything in place takes forethought and time, so he recommends "mise en place" — gathering and prepping all the ingredients before beginning assembly. "You don't want to get to the fifth layer and realize you're out of basil," he says with a laugh.
Smothers also recommends taking special care selecting the zucchini that will be sliced thin to form the lasagna's "noodles." "Buy extra," he counsels. "Some times I start with a case of zucchini and still end up walking across to Straub's to hand-pick ones that are the right size."
The long list of ingredients and detailed instructions for Scape's Vegetable Lasagna may appear daunting. Kelly counsels patience. "No step is difficult. Just take your time and have a little fun," he says.