I spent my lazy Sunday afternoon yesterday making a comforting dish that also took advantage of various delicious Summer veggies, both from my garden and the store. Mom doesn’t eat meat, so I had to think of a dinner option where fresh vegetables would be the stars of the show, but would also satisfy my Dad’s and husband’s need for filling, comforting food. This lasagna did the trick, for sure. Everyone had seconds and Dad was baffled that there was no meat in it. I did use just store-bought sauces to save a bit of weekend time.
9 lasagna noodles, cooked and drained
1 green pepper
1 large Portobello mushroom
1 package frozen spinach, thawed out and drained
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
Half of a small cauliflower or broccoli, cooked
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
3 generous tablespoons Ricotta cheese
1.5 cups Alfredo sauce
1.5 cups Marinara sauce
1 package each of shredded Mozzarella and shredded Parmesan or Italian blend cheeses
1 tablespoon herbs de Provence seasoning (or basil and oregano if you don’t have the former)
Salt and pepper to taste
Chop the zucchini, mushroom, cooked cauliflower and green pepper, and sauté (in a large pan) in olive oil on medium-high heat, with some salt, pepper and two cloves of crushed garlic added. Cook the vegetables, stirring regularly, until they soften and reduce, and there is no liquid in the pan. Turn off the heat.
While the veggies are cooking, boil the lasagna noodles in salted water until soft, but not quite cooked all the way (they will continue to cook in the oven).
Now, to the sautéed vegetable mixture add the drained spinach, the seasoning, two more cloves of crushed garlic, pine nuts, Ricotta cheese, and the pasta sauces. Mix everything together into a homogenous vegetable sauce. It should still retain some of the texture from the veggies.
Pre-heat the oven to 360F and grease the bottom of a glass lasagna dish or spread a spoonful of sauce over the bottom. Drain the lasagna noodles and lay three noodles lengthwise across the bottom of the pan. Spread the veggie mixture in an even layer, then sprinkle with Parmesan or Italian blend cheese. Repeat with the next two layers. Top the last layer with the remainder of the veggie mixture and a generous helping of grated cheese (Mozzarella and Parmesan), then sprinkle with additional herbs and fresh-ground black pepper. Cover the lasagna with aluminum foil and bake for about 40 minutes. Then take off the foil and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese starts to brown and bubble, like this:
See all those yummy veggie and gooey cheese layers? Mmm. You might need to turn on the broiler for a little bit if the cheese isn’t browning, but make sure to watch closely and turn off quickly. Pull the lasagna out and let sit for about 10-15 minutes before serving. Enjoy with a little side salad and a nice glass of red wine!