Friday, November 5, 2010

Roasted Vegetarian Lasagna

So one post in the past two months... I guess that that's a testament to how crazy my life has been these past few months, as I have not only not been blogging; I haven't really been cooking or baking much at all either. Unless you count tons of pureed baby food, a couple of soups and some vanilla cremes (which I will get up here soon, as they are mighty delicious).

Logan has recently decided to go on a hunger strike after having gagged so much on his newly introduced chicken that he made himself puke up his whole meal a few times. He now refuses to even open his mouth for anything. So we've decided to take a break for a few days until he becomes interested in food again. Maybe in the time I'll save in the next few days in not having to feed him or prepare anything can be spent cooking some stuff for ourselves???

Thankfully, despite our hectic schedule over the past few months, my freezer stash has allowed us to not have to eat fast-food or store-bought frozen food. And Diane, there are still a bunch of meals left in the freezer, so yes, as you surmised, I do have a freezer that is completely packed with prepared meals. I don't particularly like store-bought prepared food. Not only is it not super healthy, I don't generally find it all that tasty either. So I pack the freezer so full of meals (hey, I like cooking!), that I oftentimes need to sit a cake of Diet Coke on top of it to keep it closed. Yes... I am a bit of a nut.

I generally freeze EVERYTHING, other than dishes with potatoes in them, as I find their texture changes once frozen. So whenever I make a new meal, we tend to eat it once or twice and then I stuff the rest into the freezer, in two person sized portions. Doing this enables me to rarely cook during the week. At most, I pull a little dish out of the freezer in the morning and maybe add rice and vegetables. I always have a huge stash in the freezer, as I cook more than we are able to eat... teehee... but this has come in super handy at times: right after Logan was born, coming back from France and just when I'm feeling downright lazy and uninspired. I suspect that as our family gets bigger that this is going to become less and less feasible as what are now leftovers will become just a meal. But in the meantime, I love being able to open the freezer in the morning and pick from a wide selection of healthy (well, usually!), homemade meals.

So enough babbling and on to today's recipe. This is one of the meals that is almost always in our freezer. It comes from the cookbook Crazy Plates, which is a super popular healthy cookbook, from the same series as Looneyspoons and Eat, Shrink and Be Merry! I had received the first of these cookbooks (Looneyspoons) from my parents as a gift when I left for university many moons ago (wow... am I really that old??). Any of the recipes I've tried from all three cookbooks have generally been very good. I used to use them all of the time as a student, but have gotten a bit out of the habit of using them lately.

I usually decide to make this recipe when some of the veggies in it are on sale, which is what inspired me to make it lately... particularly knowing that with winter coming, the price of veggies just continues to creep. It freezes well, though it ends up a bit watery when you reheat it. I end up just dumping the extra liquid off of the plate before serving it.

The recipe calls for 3 C of spaghetti sauce. I don't find that this is enough and find that the noodles dry out if I don't use more. I don't really measure how much I use, but just be sure to have all of the noodles covered. Also, I use homemade spelt lasagna noodles, which I make with my mom's old pasta-maker. Delicious. Definitely makes it all that much tastier. Though this time I did half homemade spelt-noodles and half store-bought whole wheat, as a piece on the machine broke halfway through :(

The veggies in this recipe are delicious. I often make a batch or two of just the veggies and then freeze them to be mixed with pasta and sauce and some chicken for a quick dinner. Or we sometimes just eat them as a side dish.

3 C sliced portabello mushrooms
2 medium zucchini, unpeeled, sliced
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 large yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. balsamic or red wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. each dried rosemary and dried oregano
1 C part-skim ricotta cheese
1 C low-fat (1%) cottage cheese
1/3 C chopped, fresh parsley
1/4 C grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg white
12 lasagna noodles, uncooked
3 C of your favourite low-fat spaghetti sauce
1 1/2 C shredded part-skim mozzarella or Swiss cheese

1. Spray a large roasting pan with non-stick spray. Add mushrooms, zucchini, bell peppers, onions, olive oil, vinegar, garlic, rosemary and oregano. Mix well, until vegetables are coated with seasonings. Roast, uncovered, at 400 degrees Farenheit for 25 minutes, stirring once halfway through cooking time.

2. While vegetables are roasting, prepare cheese filling and cook pasta. In a medium bowl, combine ricotta and cottage cheeses, 1/4 C parsley, Parmesan cheese, and egg white. Mix well. Refrigerate until ready to use. Prepare lasagna noodles according to package directions. Drain well. Rinse with cold water and drain again.

3. To assemble lasagna, spray a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with non-stick spray. Spread 1/4 spaghetti sauce over bottom of pan. Arrange 4 lasagna noodles, 3 lengthwise and one crosswise, over sauce. Spread 1/2 cheese filling over noodles, followed by 1/3 roasted vegetables. Sprinkle vegetables with 1/3 mozzarella. Repeat layering: 4 noodles, 1/2 cheese filling, 1/3 roasted vegetables, and 1/3 mozzarella, following by remaining spaghetti sauce. Top sauce with remaining roasted vegetables.

4. Cover with foil and bake at 375 degrees Farenheit for 35 minutes. Remove lasagna from oven, sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and parsley, and return to oven, uncovered, for 5 more minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Makes 8 servings.

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