Oh, how I love an excuse to cook with cheese! My sister was coming in from out of town this week, and she is a bean-hating-vegetarian. I was stumped as to what to cook, since Kevin is a tofu-hating omnivore. I decided a veggie lasagna was in order, and that I would also create a lentil soup for Kevin and Maya (who is quite skeptical about melted cheese). The nice thing about a baked pasta dish, is that you can assemble the entire thing in the morning (or previous day), and then bake it an hour before you want to serve it. Perfect. I raced to the grocery store and back home, which Miss Maya was at school, and assembled this bad boy extremely quickly. It was a whirlwind of activity, but it was well worth it, so I didn't have to destroy my kitchen at 5pm, with a guest anxiously awaiting dinner.
Anyway, the final product...
This is a good one. I will keep this recipe in the files, because it's an easy, go-to recipe for company, or a new mom, or a potluck. It is full of veggies, and you could definitely add more if in the mood. The one factor to consider, is the fact that the recipe is totally dependent on the sauce. This calls for a jar of "fat free pasta sauce," so you really need to decide how far you want to go with this ingredient. I used "Classico Tomato Basil," which is the sauce we buy at Costco. It's not fat free, but a very close second. The thing is, the better the sauce, the better the lasagna (in my opinion), so I think next time, I will try a different sauce. The one I used was good, but it wasn't exceptional. I would like to try making my own, but I haven't found a recipe that excites me. Anyway, back to the final product. I really liked this - it is really delicious, without being heavy or too rich. The sauteed veggies are really nice, and add a great texture to a meatless pasta bake. I felt that using part-skim cheeses didn't affect the flavor of it at all, which was really nice. My only big complaint, is that it really fell apart. The recipe instructions, state that the lasagna needs to "stand" for 10 minutes, which I assume was the time it needed to "set." Well, it still totally fell apart when I cut into it. I recognize that this doesn't affect the taste one bit, but you know how I love pretty food. Anyway, after leaving out for 30 minutes, I cut into it again, and it stayed together just fine. So, the moral is, let it sit for a tad longer, if you want a pretty slice. Oh, I just love layers... Mmmmmmm.
Try this... If you dig cheese.
This vegetable lasagna is perfect for making ahead and can easily transport to a potluck or the freezer.
Yield: 6 servings
1 teaspoon olive oil
3/4 cup sliced mushrooms (omitted - Nora hates 'em)
3/4 cup chopped zucchini
1/2 cup sliced carrot
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
1 (26-ounce) bottle fat-free tomato basil pasta sauce
2 tablespoons commerical pesto
1 (15-ounce) carton part-skim ricotta cheese
6 hot cooked lasagna noodles (about 6 ounces uncooked), cut in half (I used whole wheat)
3/4 cup (3 ounce) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 375�.
Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add mushrooms and the next 4 ingredients (mushrooms through onion); cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add pasta sauce; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes.
Combine pesto and ricotta in a small bowl. Spread 1/2 cup tomato mixture in the bottom of a 8-inch square baking dish or pan coated with cooking spray. Arrange 4 noodle halves over tomato mixture. Top noodles with half of ricotta mixture and 1 cup tomato mixture. Repeat layers, ending with noodles. Spread remaining tomato mixture over noodles; sprinkle with mozzarella.
Cover and bake at 375� for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 20 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes.
Notes: To make ahead, assemble as directed; stop before baking. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Let stand 30 minutes at room temperature; bake as directed. For easy cleanup, assemble in a disposable 8-inch aluminum-foil pan. If you're making for a gift, deliver uncooked with baking instructions.
CALORIES 328 (30% from fat); FAT 10.9g (sat 5.4g,mono 3.8g,poly 0.9g); IRON 2.9mg; CHOLESTEROL 31mg; CALCIUM 418mg; CARBOHYDRATE 39g; SODIUM 491mg; PROTEIN 18.2g; FIBER 3.7g
Cooking Light, JANUARY 2001