Project Veggie: Day 4 – Lasagna

Yesterday was Luke’s 16th birthday, so the focus of the day was all about the party.  Thank goodness birthday cake doesn’t have meat in it because I ate my fill of that chocolate & raspberry deliciousness.

Luke has not complained about the vegetarian diet at all, but of all his gifts, this was one of his very favorites:

It's hard to separate a young man and his meat.

For his birthday dinner, he asked for spaghetti.  I opted to make lasagna instead since it could be made ahead and I wouldn’t have to be cooking during his party.  I put it together in the morning and then popped it in the oven at the end of the party.

I have an old, mangled Sunset cookbook that has been on my kitchen shelf for about 15 years.  One of the most mangled, splattered, abused pages is the recipe for “Green & Red Lasagna.”  This spinach lasagna is so easy to make and incredibly delicious. It makes a big pan, tastes great the next day and freezes well too (I usually divide it into serving size containers so I can take them out for lunch as needed).  Yesterday, there were no leftovers. Bummer. 😦

And I know it’s a small thing, but I love that you don’t have to cook the noodles first!

Green & Red Lasagna

Green & Red Lasagna

Ingredients for the sauce:

1 tsp. olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. dry oregano
2 1/2 tsp dry basil (I usually prefer to use 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil, or a couple of big spoons of pesto if I have it)
1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1/2 cup red wine

Other ingredients:

1 egg
1 egg white
1 package frozen chopped spinach (thawed and squeezed dry)
2 cups lowfat cottage cheese
1/3 cup romano or parmesan cheese (I prefer the taste of parmesan but either will work fine)
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
8 oz. dry lasagna noodles
1 1/2 – 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

To prepare sauce, heat olive oil in a large frying pan or dutch oven.  Add onions, mushrooms, red pepper, garlic, oregano & basil.  Cook, stirring often, until liquid has evaporated and onion is very soft.  Stir in tomato sauce, tomato paste, soy sauce and red wine.  Cook, stirring, until sauce comes to a boil.  Use hot.

Meanwhile, in a bowl, beat egg and egg white to blend.  Stir in spinach, cottage and parmesan (or romano) cheese, pepper and nutmeg.

Spread a fourth of the sauce in the bottom of a 13 x 9 casserole dish.  Top with a single layer of dry lasagna noodles.  Spread a third of the spinach mixture.  Repeat layers of sauce, noodles, and spinach mixture until used up, ending with sauce.  Sprinkle with mozzarella (if I have any parmesan left, I usually sprinkle a bit of that on top too).  Cover tightly with foil.  At this point you can refrigerate for later or the next day.  Bake, covered, at 375˚ for about an hour (a little longer if it’s been refrigerated).  Let stand, covered, for about 10 minutes before cutting into squares and serving. Don’t skip that last step unless you want a pile of very tasty goo (I learned this the hard way).  It needs to sit or it won’t hold its lovely square shape.  Besides, this gives you time to pop a tasty loaf of french bread into the oven to get nice and toasty to go with it while you toss together a quicky lettuce and tomato salad.

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