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Sunday, May 25, 2014

All Veggie Lasagna

UPDATE:  I forgot to mention that this makes TWO lasagnas!  One for now and one for the freezer!  Apologies to all who tried to get all that stuff in one pan!  :)
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The other day I mentioned that I was going to be making an all veggie lasagna with some of the home made cottage cheese I produced the other day. (see here for how to make that yummy cottage cheese!)

A friend of mine is gluten free, so she quickly picked up on the reference and asked for this recipe.  I've been making it from well before anyone in our house was gluten free, though.  It's just that yummy.  It can be made both with meat or without, depending on your mood or food preferences, too.

I make two versions. . .one glorifies the almighty vegetable and one tries to hide them (works for kids, and adults for that matter, who aren't as fond of veggies).  I prefer the first as it's prettier and I like the textural differences.  If you need to hide some veggies, though, you can just blend them (a stick blender words great!!) into the sauce with a hand blender so the only 'visible' veggie will be the eggplant, which is actually kind of hidden anyway.

Here we go: 

Ingredients:
  • 2 Large Eggplants, sliced lengthways 1/8 inch thick
  • 1 Large Onion, diced
  • 4-6 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 4 Cups Shredded or Finely Diced Veggies of your choice (zucchini, carrots, broccoli, mushrooms, sweet potato, kale, red/yellow/orange bell peppers, etc.--whatever you like) 
  • 2 Cups Fresh Spinach, cut into 1/4 ribbons
  • 2 Large Tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • Either 1 Jar Prepared Spaghetti Sauce PLUS 1 Large Can Crushed Italian Tomatoes
  • OR 2 Large Cans Crushed Italian Tomatoes, plus 1 Small Can Tomato Paste AND 1-2 Teaspoons Italian Seasoning (to taste)
  • 2 Cups Ricotta or Cottage Cheese (homemade is almost a cross between the two, so is PERFECT!)
  • 2 Cups Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
  • 1/4 Cup Fresh Parmesan
  • 1/2 Cup Olive Oil
  • Salt to Taste
  • Non-stick Cooking Spray (I use a 100% Olive Oil or 100% Coconut Oil spray)

Method:

  • Mince your garlic first and then put in a cup with olive oil.  Stir well and set aside to infuse.
  • In a medium saucepan, combine jarred sauce and crushed tomatoes or the 2 cans of crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and Italian Seasoning to taste
  • Heat to a low simmer and leave while preparing other ingredients
  • Slice your eggplant into 1/8 inch strips, lengthways (these will be your 'pasta')
  • Lightly brush each side of your strips with garlic oil
  • Grill, broil, or BBQ until slightly charred, but not mushy
  • Remove to a plate to cool
  • Dice or shred your preferred veggies (I shred things like zucchini, carrot and sweet potato and dice things like broccoli, mushrooms and peppers) and set aside
  • Thinly slice your tomato and set aside
  • Mix your ricotta/cottage cheese with your Parmesan and a pinch of salt, set aside
  • Place whatever garlic oil you have left in a pan and saute your onions until translucent and starting to brown lightly
  • Add your shredded spinach and saute until just wilted, but not disintegrated
  • Grate your mozzarella and set aside
  • Spray a large baking pan with cooking spray
  • Ladle sauce into the bottom just to cover
  • Begin with a layer of eggplant strips - use 1/3 of what you have
  • Spoon half of your luscious spinach mixture over your eggplant and spread evenly
  • Then add two cups of your shredded/diced veggies, either mixed or in layers, spread evenly
  • Dot 1 Cup of the ricotta/cottage cheese mixture around the layer
  • Top with 1/3 of the sauce mixture
  • Sprinkle 1/2 cup of mozzarella on
  • Repeat with the next layer
  • Finish with another layer of eggplant
  • Top with remaining sauce
  • Sprinkle last cup of mozzarella on top
  • Bake at 375 degrees until cheese is lightly browned and bubbly, about 40 minutes
You can vary this all you like, too. . .sometimes I add meat (Italian sausage, ground beef or turkey, etc.), but it works just fine without!




(photo courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net and can be found here)

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