I had lunch today with a childhood friend. Someone I haven’t seen in years and years.
Ummm, close. But not exactly.
Alfalfa! I swear the last time I had alfalfa sprouts was in 1987 when my mom was into sprouting her own. It’s been a long time. Welcome back my friend, looking forward to visiting with you more regularly.
The girls busied themselves around the house and outside today while I putzed around doing housework sprinkled with a little playing as needed.
We broke for snacks some time mid afternoon. Fage and granola for me – so happy together.
But now, the reason we’re all here tonight. A Lesson in Vegetarian Lasagna.
Maybe you’re a pro and have made lasagna 1000 times before and you’re already yawning and scrolling through this part wondering when it’s going to be over. If that’s the case – run along and make me something to eat.
If you’ve never made lasagna and are either:
a. intimidated b. curious c. intrigued d. hungry
then please, walk with me.
This is actually one of the first vegetarian dishes I ever made. No, wait. This is actually one the first dishes I ever made – period! It is very near and dear to my heart and is probably why I’m dedicating nearly an entire post to it. I made veggie lasagna years before we were actually vegetarians and were just looking for more meatless dishes to enjoy. This was also something I made early on in our marriage and first had my own kitchen and started making dinner like a grown up. I’ve made this dish many, many times and if I may be so bold I’m going to go ahead and say that I am a VLE. Vegetarian Lasagna Expert. Both in the eating and preparing sense of the term that I made up just now. This is an time intensive dish to prepare but it is honestly not very difficult. I usually only make this for dinner parties or if I’m in the mood to really COOK. Tonight happened to be the latter.
For the sauce you’ll need:
extra virgin olive oil 1 zucchini, shredded 1 carrot, shredded 1/2 cup of mushrooms, chopped 1 medium onion, diced 1 clove garlic, minced (the vegetable used in this dish are very flexible and veggies can be left out or included as desired) 15 oz can of diced tomatoes 4 oz can of tomato paste 1 cup of water oregano basil S&P
For the cheese layer:
1 egg, scrambled 2 cups ricotta (or cottage cheese) 8 oz of mozzarella 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese
9 – 11 lasagna noodles – I use uncooked. I’ve never used pre-cooked so I’m not exactly sure how they work. If you’ve ever use pre-cooked noodles for lasagna, do you think it’s a big savings in time/energy?
You should only need 9 noodles but I make a couple extra so I’ve got a few “backups” in case one or two rip or I need to patch up a spot if the noodles are a little short. Plus I’ve got two children who are happy to eat left over, slightly undercooked, plain lasagna noodles.
A spread of everything you’ll need:
Well, everything minus the Parmesan that I didn’t remember to add to the picture until I was up to my elbows in vegetables, sauce, cheese and noodle madness.
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a large pan, saute veggies of your choice in EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) on medium heat until soft. While this veggies are cooking, fill and begin heating a large pan with water for cooking lasagna noodles.
Add tomatoes, tomato paste, water and stir. Add herbs and S&P.
Oh! And this is an important step. Take an extra carrot and slice it up to enjoy with salsa to snack on and enjoy while cooking. (OK that’s probably not very sanitary so skip that step if you are a food inspector or making this meal for a lot of people.)
While sauce is cooking and water for noodles is heating up, prepare cheese mixture. Scramble egg in a large bowl. Stir in ricotta, mozzarella and parm. Add a few splashes of milk if needed to make it a little thinner and easier to spread.
Cook noodles until they are Al Dante. (i.e., still a little bit firm) They’ll finish cooking as it bakes.
In a 9 x 13 inch baking dish, spread a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of the dish.
Lay three noodles on top of sauce layer.
With a spatula, spread cheese layer on top of noodles. If it’s really thick a little milk can help thin it out and make it easier to spread.
One more time: a layer of sauce, noodles, cheese. Then a layer of sauce, noodles and sauce again. Sprinkle with parm and it’s ready for the oven!