Veggie lasagna--recipes and tips

April 02, 2003

Tips on making vegetable lasagna

- Precook vegetables before layering with pasta, sauce and cheeses to remove excess moisture and intensify vegetable flavors.

- If using no-boil lasagna noodles, presoak them in about 1/2 cup warm water to soften. This makes the noodles easier to position in the baking dish.

- Balance the layering of sauce, noodles and vegetables to ensure that there is enough moisture in the casserole to steam the noodles as the lasagna bakes.

- If it looks as if you have too much sauce and filling for a single casserole dish, make two casseroles, one large and one smaller one. Don't overfill the dish. The lasagna will bubble over and cook unevenly. You want to leave about 1/2 inch of space between the layered lasagna and the rim of the dish.


Vegetarian lasagna

1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced

2 cups coarsely grated or thinly sliced carrots

1 cup chopped onions

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup roasted bell pepper, chopped

2 cups small-curd cottage cheese

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese

3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1 teaspoon dried crumbled oregano

1/2 teaspoon dried sweet basil

15 1/2-ounce jar commercial spaghetti sauce

6-ounce can tomato paste

6 lasagna noodles, cooked

10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well-drained

2 Roma tomatoes, coarsely chopped

2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Saute mushrooms, carrots and onion in butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until tender; drain. Stir in chopped roasted bell pepper and set aside.

Combine cottage cheese, eggs, Parmesan cheese, parsley, oregano and basil; stir well and set aside.

Combine spaghetti sauce and tomato paste; stir well. Spread half of spaghetti sauce mixture in a 13-by-9-inch greased glass baking dish. Arrange 3 cooked lasagna noodles over sauce. Spread half of vegetable mixture over noodles. Spoon half of cottage cheese mixture over vegetables. Arrange 3 remaining lasagna noodles over cottage cheese mixture. Top with remaining sauce, vegetable and cottage cheese mixtures. Sprinkle chopped tomato over top of casserole.

At this point, you can cover the dish and refrigerate it for up to 24 hours before baking, or you can immediately bake the lasagna.

To bake, spray a sheet of aluminum foil with cooking spray and tightly cover the top of the dish with the coated side down. Bake it covered at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese; and bake an additional 15 minutes or until lasagna is thoroughly heated and bubbling on the edges and cheese melts. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 6 to 8.

Note: Additional vegetables can be used, including thinly sliced zucchini, yellow squash, asparagus, broccoli and cauliflower. All of these must be sauteed before layering with the pasta, sauce and cheese.

- Recipe adapted from Vegetable Lasagna recipe in "The Southern Living Complete Do-Ahead Cookbook"

White and green lasagna

For the sauce:

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 clove garlic, minced

2 cups canned chicken broth, warmed (use low- or no-sodium variety, if possible)

2 cups low-fat milk, warmed

3 cups grated Asiago cheese

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/8 teaspoon red pepper

For the cheese filling:

15-ounce carton ricotta cheese

2 cups grated mozzarella cheese

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/8 teaspoon red pepper

For the vegetable filling:

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 zucchini, thinly sliced

2 boxes frozen chopped broccoli, thawed and drained, or 1 box frozen chopped spinach and 1 box frozen chopped broccoli, both thawed and drained

1/2 head cauliflower, cut into thin, bite-size slices

1 cup fresh mushrooms, thinly sliced

14-ounce can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/8 teaspoon red pepper

For the pasta:

9 lasagna noodles, cooked and drained

To make sauce: Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add onion and garlic, cook 3 minutes. Add warm chicken broth and milk and bring to a boil. Stir in Asiago cheese, salt, black and red pepper. Cook until cheese melts. Set aside.

To make cheese filling: Mix together ricotta, mozzarella salt, black and red peppers in a small bowl.

To make vegetable filling: Heat olive oil in a skillet and saute vegetables with salt, black pepper and red pepper until vegetables are softened and wilted. Set aside.

Grease a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish and spread 1/3 to 1/2 of the white sauce in bottom of dish. Layer 3 lasagna noodles over sauce.

Spread 1/3 of the ricotta mixture over lasagna noodles. Next, spread 1/3 of wilted vegetables over ricotta. Top with second 1/3 of sauce, then 3 more noodles, and second 1/3 of ricotta and vegetables. On final layer, place remaining noodles, ricotta and vegetables and top with the remaining sauce.

Spray a piece of aluminum foil with nonstick cooking spray and cover casserole dish with sprayed side down. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until bubbly and hot all the way through. Remove foil and bake for 10 to 15 minutes more to brown the top layer. Let set for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Note: A variety of vegetables can be used in this lasagna, including asparagus, Swiss chard, eggplant and green bell peppers. All vegetables should be precooked before layering with pasta and sauce.

- Recipe adapted from Lasagna Verdura recipe in "Kay Ewing's Cooking School Cookbook: A Second Course"

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