Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Vegetarian Lasagna

Nothing beats lasagna. And this recipe, adapted from my grandmother's, is truly special...

15 whole wheat lasagna noodles (plus 2 or 3 in case some break!)

2 TBSP olive oil
3-4 cloves garlic, crushed
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 package Gimme Lean soy ground beef (optional)
fresh basil, chopped

2 TBSP olive oil
4-5 cups of finely chopped or grated:
onion, mushrooms, spinach, summer squash, zucchini,
kalamata olives, or whatever else you have on hand
salt and pepper

2 lb ricotta or cottage cheese
2 eggs
1/2 C parmesan cheese
1 TBSP fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 tsp black pepper

10 oz. mozzarella, grated
handful of parmesan

In a large pot, bring several quarts of water to a boil. Salt well. Add lasagna noodles gently one or two at a time, and return to a boil. Cook about 10 minutes for whole wheat noodles (or follow directions on package). Drain carefully, rinse in cool water, gently separate noodles, and lay flat to dry.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan heat 2 TBSP olive oil and saute garlic until slightly golden. Add crushed tomatoes and salt to taste. Stir well. Simmer until liquid starts to evaporate and tomatoes thicken, about 15 minutes. Stir in fresh basil (in a pinch, dried basil and oregano work well). If you prefer a meaty sauce, you can add a package of Gimme Lean soy ground beef to the tomatoes for a delicious protein-packed sauce.

Finely chop or grate whatever combination of vegetables you are using. In a separate pan, heat 2 TBSP olive oil and saute vegetables until tender, adding salt and pepper to taste. In general, onions, squash, and mushrooms can all be thrown in at the same time. Spinach or any other greens should be added at the last minute.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk ricotta/cottage cheese, parmesan, eggs, parsley, and black pepper until thoroughly combined.

Brush sides and bottom of large baking dish (9x13") with olive oil. Layer five noodles in the bottom of pan, spread half the ricotta mixture over noodles, spread one third of the sauce over the ricotta, sprinkle one third of the mozzarella, and spread half of the vegetables. Repeat. Finish with one more layer of noodles, the remainder of the sauce, the remainder of the mozzarella, and a good handful of parmesan.

Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for 30-45 minutes until cheese is bubbly and browned. This recipe freezes very well, so feel free to make in advance and then increase the cooking time accordingly.


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