Monday, February 9, 2015

Vegetable Lasagna

If you have made lasagna before you know the following to be true.... making lasagna is a lot of work! I love the classic cheesy Italian comfort-food, but I rarely make it due to the amount of time it takes to prepare and cook. Making lasagna is a labor of love!  


For me, Sundays are the perfect day to embark on a time-consuming food-making adventure. Plus, I like to make a big meal on Sunday so I have leftovers to eat for dinner during the busy work week. Me and my microwave have become close friends a few nights a week. Anyway, yesterday I decided to commit to a Vegetable Lasagna project...


I found a recipe in our Cooking Light Magazine for Lasagna with Zucchini. I liked the idea of using zucchini and yellow squash in the dish, but wanted to add more vegetables for a healthier, heartier lasagna. I went through our vegetable bin and pulled out a few veggies I thought would be a great addition to this recipe... mushrooms, carrots, and broccoli. I also decided to add a layer of pasta sauce in the lasagna to add to the flavor; the original recipe didn't call for a sauce. Oh, and I upped the amounts of cheese because... well, cheese is yummy.


Amy was getting a little skeptical of how this Vegetable Lasagna would turn out since I was making so many changes to the original recipe... but I knew it would turn out delicious. With ingredients like cheese, noodles, pasta sauce, and vegetables it would have to be awesome! And that is why I love cooking; you can experiment by completely tweeking a recipe or changing the ingredients and the dish still has the potential to come out tasting delicious! 


Once again, my cooking instincts did not fail me... my Vegetable Lasagna turned out AMAZING! In fact, this might be one of the best dishes I have ever created. It was totally worth the time and effort to make. This lasagna is cheesy, super flavorful, and packed with vegetables. I didn't even miss meat in my lasagna; the combination of noddles, cheese, and veggies is hearty and satisfying! This is a healthier, meatless version of a comfort-food classic... 

Vegetable Lasagna
based on a recipe from www.myrecipes.com
makes a 9x13 pan

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium zucchini, shredded
1 medium yellow squash, shredded
8 oz. mushrooms, chopped
1 cup chopped carrot
1 cup chopped broccoli
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 1/2 cups fat-free ricotta cheese
8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese 
1 cup pasta sauce
1 package oven-ready (no boil) lasagna noodles
Cooking spray

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375°.

2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add zucchini, squash, mushrooms, carrot, broccoli, thyme, and garlic; sauté 5 minutes. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and crushed red pepper. Remove vegetable mixture from pan, and cool completely. Drain off any excess liquid.


3. Combine remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, 1 cup ricotta, and mozzarella in a food processor. Pulse until smooth. In another small bowl, combine 1/2 cup ricotta mixture and 1/2 cup Parmesan; salt and pepper to taste if necessary.

4. Spread a thin layer of the pasta sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 inch glass baking dish coated with cooking spray. Place a layer of noodles on top of the pasta sauce on the bottom of the dish; trim to fit if needed. Top with half of vegetable mixture, then half of ricotta-mozzarella mixture. Repeat layers (pasta sauce, noodles, vegetable mixture, ricotta-mozzarella), ending with pasta sauce. 


Top with the ricotta-Parmesan mixture. 


Cover dish with foil. Bake lasagna at 375° for 30 minutes; uncover. Bake, uncovered, an additional 15 minutes.

5. Turn broiler to high. Sprinkle lasagna with remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Broil 2 minutes or until lightly browned. Let stand for 5 minutes. Cut into slices.


Wow...

This Vegetable Lasagna is so good, I seriously didn't want to stop eating it! I'm pretty excited for my leftovers this week. 


If you are looking for a healthier or meatless version of lasagna... this is the recipe will not disappoint!

Enjoy.

- Janel


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