Foodie Friday: Veggie Lasagna

I love lasagna! This is one of my favorite meals!  It seems many people tend to shy away from making this at home since they view it as labor intensive.  Others may see it as a "dietary sin".  But I say "have your lasagna and eat it, too"!  Let's start with the labor intensive issue.  I prepare mine ahead of time, usually the night before or the morning before I will cook it.  This allows me to skip the boiling of the noodles.  I also use chopped, frozen spinach.  I just thaw and add it to the recipe.  No cleaning, chopping or draining needed.  This helps save time and helps retain some of the vitamins that would have been lost if the spinach would have been drained.  This leads us into the next issue: the dietary sin.  By filling my my lasagna with vegetables and not just meat and cheese, it lowers the saturated fat and increases the vitamins and minerals.  I also choose part-skim mozzarella and part-skim ricotta to help lower the fat and calorie content.  But in the end, there is still plenty of cheese in this dish.  Moderation is always the key.  All foods can fit, it's the portion sizes and frequency that can come back to "haunt" us.  Served with some salad and fresh fruit, this can be part of a great meal!  So, let's move on to the how-to part of this post.

Here are the ingredients you need to gather: parmesean cheese, lasagna noodles, frozen spinach, spaghetti sauce (I had some that I had made and stored in my freezer, but you can also use your favorite jar of pre-made spaghetti sauce), a can of diced tomatoes, an egg, and parsley.  (And due to my excitement to get this made, I forgot to put the mozzarella in this picture.)

In a large bowl, defrost the spinach, but do not drain.  Since the noodles are not going to be pre-cooked, the liquid is used during the baking process to cook the noodles. Next, stir in the ricotta and Parmesan cheeses.  Add the beaten egg (tip: beat the egg in the empty ricotta container to help save on clean-up).

Stir in the undrained can of tomatoes, parsley and Parmesan cheese; mix well.

Spray your baking dish with cooking spray.  I was fortunate enough to try out one of the pieces of the Lodge Bakeware with this recipe.  If you haven't heard, you can earn e-stickers with qualifying purchases to collect the pieces.  To learn more about how you can obtain these items you can click here.

 Begin layering your lasagna.  Spread about 1/4 cup spaghetti sauce on the bottom of your pan; place 3 noodles across the bottom of the dish, then spread 1/3 of the cheese mixture.

 After the cheese mixture, spread 1/3 of remaining sauce, then 1/3 of the mozzarella; continue to layer noodles, cheese mix, sauce and mozzarella two more times.  Cover with foil and place in the refrigerator until ready to cook.  The great thing about this bakeware is that it is deep.  That means when I remove the foil, all the cheese has not stuck to the it!

Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes; remove foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until cheese is lightly browned.  

Veggie Lasagna
10 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and undrained
1/4 c. shredded Parmesan cheese
1 - 15 oz. container part-skim ricotta cheese
1 - 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
1/2-1 Tbsp. dried parsley
1 egg, beaten
1 - 24 oz. jar spaghetti sauce or 3 cups of homemade sauce
8 oz. part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 box lasagna noodles

1.  In a medium bowl, mix together spinach, Parmesan, ricotta, tomatoes, parsley and egg.
2.  Spray your rectangular dish (4 quart) with cooking spray. 
3.  Spread about 1/4 cup sauce on the bottom of the pan, place 3 uncooked noodles side by side across the bottom of the pan.  Spread 1/3 of the ricotta cheese mixture over the noodles, followed by 1/3 of the sauce and 1/3 of the mozzarella. 
4.  Repeat Step 3 with next two layers.
5.   Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.  When ready to bake, place in oven and begin to heat oven to 350 degrees.  Bake for 45-50 minutes; remove foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until the cheese begins to brown.  Remove from oven and let sit 5-10 minutes before serving.


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