Sunday, May 2, 2010

Vegetable Lasagna

I bought 3 cookbooks this week: Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, Gourmet Today, and because I needed to push amazon into free shipping 660 Curries.  With luck, you can expect to see gems from them in the future.  I'll start with Gourmet Today's Vegetable Lasagna.  I have one warning about this recipe ... it's quite a bit of work, but then again, most lasagna is a bit of work!  I got a little fancy with the ingredients and went to Milano's and bought fresh lasagna noodles, fresh ricotta cheese, and San Marzano tomatoes.  Because oddly enough it's easier for me to buy fresh spinach than use frozen, I also substituted two bundles of spinach for two packages of spinach.  I also substituted 2% milk for whole milk in the creamed spinach.

There are many components to this that require separate cooking.  For ease, I've put the directions right under the ingredients for that part.

Vegetable Lasagna from Gourmet Today

For sauce:
3 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 (28 oz) cans whole tomatoes (I used San Marzano)
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
3 tbsp freshly chopped parsley

1. Heat oil in a 3-qt pot over medium high heat.
2. Add onion and cook, stirring, until golden.  Add garlic and cook, stirring for 1 minute or so.
3. Add tomato paste, tomatoes with juice (the original suggests you chop them, I skipped this), sugar, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil.
4. Simmer, stirring occasionally and breaking up the tomatoes until sauce is thickened, about 45 minutes.
5. Stir in parsley (or basil) and remove from heat.

For Ricotta Filling:
1 1/2 pounds (3 cups) ricotta (I used about 550g)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

1. Stir together all ingredients in a bowl until combined.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

For Vegetables:
1 lb eggplant, cut lengthwise into 1/4 inch thick slices
1 lb zucchini, cut lengthwise into 1/4 inch thick slices
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400F.  Cover two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Arrange eggplants on one sheet and zucchini on the other.  Brush tops with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
3. Bake until tender (the original suggests you turn, I did not and it was fine), 15 to 20 minutes.

For Creamed Spinach:
1 1/2 cups milk
3 tbsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tbsp flour
3 tbsp grated Parmesan
2 (10 oz) packages frozen chopped spinach thawed and squeezed dry (or fresh spinach works as well)
salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat milk in a small saucepan, stirring, until warm.
2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a 3-qt saucepan over low heat.  Add garlic and cook, stirring until softened.
3. Add flour and cook, whisking, to make a roux.
4. Add warm milk in a steady stream, whisking constantly.  Simmer, whisking until thickened.
5. Stir in cheese, spinach, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring until heated through.  Remove from heat.

For Assembly:
8 oven ready lasagna noodles (the original calls for 16, but 8 fit my pan perfectly).
1 pound freshly grated mozzarella (about 4 cups)

1. Oil a 13x9 baking dish and preheat the oven to 350F.
2. Spread 2 cups of tomato sauce in dish and cover with 2 lasagna noodles.
3. Spread ricotta mixture on top and cover with eggplant.
4. Top with 2 more noodles.
5. Pour 1 1/2 cups tomato sauce on top.
6. Spread spinach mixture over sauce and top with 2 more noodles.
7. Top with zucchini and cover with 2 remaining noodles.
8. Pour remaining sauce on top and sprinkle on mozzarella cheese.
9. Cover lasagna with well-buttered foil and bake for 45 minutes.
10. Remove foil and bake until top is bubbling and lightly browned, 10 to 15 minutes more.
11. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

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