Garfield’s Favorite! Lasagne (Vegetariane)!

In Italian, Pasta, Vegetables on March 8, 2012 at 3:56 pm

Ooookay.  I know I haven’t posted in a while.  Due to a combination of recipe repetition, social engagements, take-out, and pure laziness, I actually had little material to use.  I suppose I could have wrote about the restaurants or the repetitions, but that’s no fun!  Besides, this is supposed to be about Lauren liking to cook.  This means making dinner, not making reservations.

Another time consuming aspect of my life is training for an upcoming half marathon.  Normally I would run in the morning, but it’s staying lighter for longer, and the weather is warmer in the afternoons.  This delays cooking time, leaving almost no time or energy to actually write.  The benefit of running, though, is the slack it allows me when craving some carbs.  Knowing that today was a long 10-mile run, I figured making some pasta for dinner the night before would be a great change.  Especially if I used whole grain pasta, lots of veggies, and lower fat cheese.  Sometimes I would make a pasta primavera, but this time I decided to make a lasagna.  I really love lasagna, primarily because it’s so much fun to assemble, and even prettier to look at.

For this recipe, you could use any combo of veggies, but I used spinach and mushroom.  I also decided to substitute some of the layers of pasta for layers of additional veggies – zucchini and eggplant!  Here is the recipe:

Vegetarian Whole Wheat Lasagna (Serves 6-8)

Vegetable Sauce

1 tbsp EVOO
8 oz mushrooms, sliced (white or crimini)
1 bunch spinach, roughly chopped (about 10 oz)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes (preferably San Marzano)
8-10 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
Sea salt to taste

Cheese Filling

15 oz part skim ricotta
2 cups (8 oz) shredded fresh mozzarella – 1/2 for the filling and 1/2 for the topping
1 egg
4 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
Ground nutmeg and black pepper


6 sheets whole wheat lasagna noodles
2 small zucchini, sliced lengthwise
1 small eggplant, sliced lengthwise

In a large skillet over medium high heat, I added the EVOO.

Then I added the sliced mushrooms, and let them sit to brown while I washed and prepped the other veggies.

I washed and dried the spinach.

Then I washed and sliced up the zucchini into about 1/2 centimeter thick slices…

…and then did the same with the eggplant, only half as thick.  I am very particular about eggplant’s “doneness” so I always slice it really thin to ensure that it is cooked all the way through.

By the time I was done slicing, the I stirred the mushroom pan to continue browning, and then chopped up the spinach.  Then the mushrooms were sufficiently browned.  Mmmmm.

I added the spinach.  It always looks like so much at the beginning…

…and then it wilts down to almost nothing!  It was time to add the garlic, so I used a hand grater instead of chopping up.

I combined the mixture for about 30 seconds, and then added the canned tomatoes, making sure to scrape the pan and incorporate all of the brown bits.

Then I chopped up some basil into a chiffonade – roll up the leaves, and then cut across so that you have nice ribbons of basil!  I didn’t do it properly this time, so the photo is not a good example :(.

Once I added the basil, and the pan came to a boil, I covered and let simmer while I preheated the oven to 400 degrees, cooked the pasta, and combined the cheese filling ingredients.  I boiled some water, and added the pasta, cooking for 4 minutes, and then drained.

For the filling, I used a part-skim ricotta for this recipe.  I’ve tried it with fat free, but it’s gross.  And watery.  Don’t skimp on the cheese in this recipe.

Same goes with mozzarella.  I know the fresh kind is full fat, but it’s not like cheddar or other harder cheeses which have upwards of 10 grams of fat.  The regular mozzarella is only 6 grams of fat per ounce, and since I used part skim ricotta, I saved a few grams from the whole milk version.  Since half the mozzarella goes into the mix, I decided to shred instead of slicing.

I added half the mozzarella to the entire tub of ricotta, plus 1 medium egg, a pinch of ground nutmeg and black pepper, and some chopped up fresh basil.

This is what the mixture looked like when it was…mixtured.

By the time, the sauce ingredients were all cooked and incorporated.

Then it was time to assemble!  Now I know I’m a grown up with grown-up baking and casserole dishes.  However, I am also an adult with a busy adult schedule and 1-load of dishes behind this week in my chores.  As a result, I used a tin lasagna tray.  I spooned some sauce on the bottom, just enough to coat.

Then I lined the bottom with 3 lasagna sheets (the one on the right broke, but stomachs don’t know the difference).

Then I topped the pasta with about a third of the sauce.

Then I dolloped a third of the cheese mixture.

Normally, you’d repeat this step 2 more times.  However, since I wanted to have a good balance of pasta and veggies (and cut out some starch), I decided to use thin slices of veggies as the “pasta” layers in the center.  The second layer (first veggie layer) consisted of thinly sliced zucchini.  When I placed them over the cheese, I made sure to use the slices as a “spackling” tool to fill any gaps.

Then I repeated the sauce and cheese, but used eggplant as the third pasta layer.

Some more sauce (making sure to leave a smidge for the topping), some more cheese, and a final pasta layer using…pasta.

Then I used the remaining sauce on top, and sprinkled the second half of the mozzarella cheese.  I also added some fresh basil leaves for good measure.

I covered the tray with aluminum foil, and baked for 30 minutes in the 400 degree oven.  Then I uncovered the tray, increased the heat to 425, and cooked uncovered for 10 more minutes.  It probably could have stayed 5 minutes more to better brown the top, but my hubby was hungry.

I let it sit for 5 minutes so that it wouldn’t completely ooze out when I cut into it.  Completely being the operative word.  Then I rationed out a piece for Nick (about 1/6th of the tray).  Here’s a bird’s eye view.

This is a profile view, so you can better see the layers.

Doesn’t that looks so delish?  It was super tasty!  I had been snacking on pretzels during prep, so I only had 2 bites, but the portion I had for lunch today made the whole office drool.  Just enough energy to last me those 10 miles…let’s hope it’s a good run!

P.S.  I will be posting about the (rare) recipes I created between this post and the last.  Hope you like what you see.  And if you don’t, I promise I won’t cry in the corner.

  1. Thats looks amazing! Can I make a reservation?!?! 🙂

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